[Historical and epistemological notes and considerations on Medical Humanities] [Article in Italian] • Note e riflessioni storico-epistemologiche sulle Medical Humanities

Giancarlo Nonnoi


In the field of health care, recovery, and pain management, more and more interest is being shown in the development of a patient-centred medicine able to overcome several of the obvious limitations of the predominant medical conception of the ars medendi. Over the last few decades, professionals and health agencies have refocused their attention on the original humanistic vocation of Western medicine, making use of the analysis tools of the Medical Humanities, as well as the actual results of their use in clinical practice. Drawing on the ongoing debate of the last few decades in English-speaking countries, the paper deals with two main issues. In view of a treatment strategy and more effective shared caring, the first part underlines the need for healthcare personnel to increase their propensity to listen empathetically and appreciate the patient’s story of his/her suffering. This will be followed by an in-depth examination of, on the one hand, the main structures involved in the illness experience and on the other, the ontological metamorphosis and the new order and set of values that such an experience generates. The paper ends with reference to the polymorphic and polycentric nature of the Medical Humanities and the holistic epistemology that characterizes them.


Medical Humanities; Medical Philosophy; Biopsychosocial Medicine; Narrative Based Medicine; patient; disease; illness

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