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Suffering and Bioethics$
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Ronald M. Green and Nathan J. Palpant

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199926176

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199926176.001.0001

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Suffering and Human Dignity

Suffering and Human Dignity

(p.15) 1 Suffering and Human Dignity
Suffering and Bioethics

Eric J. Cassell

Oxford University Press

Suffering is the unique distress of persons whose intactness or integrity is disrupted or destroyed. The first lesson of suffering is that bodies do not suffer, persons suffer. It follows that a loss of dignity may incite suffering, as do other injuries to the person. Three cases are cited in this chapter of persons who suffer at least in part because of disruption of their dignity. These cases allow us to go further into the nature of persons, human dignity, and the relation of suffering to dignity. Since the mid-twentieth century, the ideas and ideals of science became universal in medicine and then spread out to the entire culture, where they are present in great strength and wider influence. These ideas include the belief that only objective data have validity. But objectivity in the absence of subjectivity renders persons as one-dimensional and robs medicine of the compassion and human relationships that have defined it in history and in the care of an individual sick person.

Keywords:   suffering, intactness, integrity, dignity, compassion, human relationships, scientific objectivity

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