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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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Paying Homage to the Silence of Suffering

Paying Homage to the Silence of Suffering

(p.54) 3 Paying Homage to the Silence of Suffering
Suffering and Bioethics

Gordon D. Marino

Susan E. Marino

Oxford University Press

This chapter provides a phenomenological account of suffering. It is suggested that intense and prolonged agony breaks down our linguistic and cognitive capacities and so raises questions about the heavy emphasis that we place on autonomy in Western biomedical ethics. Using examples from both real life and literature, it is maintained that affliction tends to leave individuals feeling isolated and misunderstood, as though no one can get a grasp on what they are experiencing. The experience of illness can sometimes approximate torture—without a torturer. Research indicates that physicians routinely underestimate the pain of their patients. The authors argue that more effort need to be made to discuss the silence of pain in the curriculum of educational programs in the healing arts.

Keywords:   bioethics, suffering, phenomenology, autonomy, language, cognition

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