Does Medicine Take Care Away From People?

I just finished reading the thought-provoking Hermeneutics of Medicine and the Phenomenology of Health by Professor Fredrik Svenaeus (Södertörn University).

One thing I found interesting in relation with the Covid situation, is, since Svenaeus relates health with homelikeness (in Heideggerian fashion), I wonder what this notion of health becomes when people are confined in their homes, whether they are considered ill or not. Of course, the first is a metaphorical meaning of home, but still…


I also read Ylva Söderfeldt’s (my colleague at Uppsala University) equally interesting article in Curie, and the ideas of the hegemony of “medical reasons” and of medicine as “secular religion” reminded me, by association of ideas, of Slöterdijk’s book You Must change Your Life which is a personal (and pompously verbose if interesting) take on Foucault’s technologies of the self. The reflexion I take from Ylva’s article is that the dominant paradigm of medicine as secular religion is We Must Save Your Life. In other words, care might be taken away from people until they die.

This resonates with Svenaeus quoting Heidegger (p. 159-160):


“Even ‘taking care’ of feeding and clothing, the nursing of the sick body is concern…. With regard to its positive modes, concern has two extreme possibilities. It can, so to speak, take the other’s ‘care’ away from him and put itself in his place of taking care, it can leap in for him… In contrast to this, there is the possibility of a concern which does not so much leap in for the other as leap ahead of him in his existential possibility to be. Not in order to take ‘care’ away from him, but in the first place to give it back to him as such.” [Heidegger, Sein und Zeit.]


How can medicine, instead of taking care, co-create care as agency?

Author: Luis de Miranda

Crealectician, PhD, author, philosophical counselor

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