Health and Literature

“Medicine, the arts and the humanities,” J. Lancet 2003;362:93

The Nobel Prize in Literature was recently awarded to Kazuo Ishiguro, one of my most favorite writers. I hope you read one, or more of his books.

What does literature have to do with health? Read from the article cited above:

  • “Medicine and scientific developments rely on multidisciplinary involvement of science and humanities. The arts and humanities can also contribute ways to re-conceptualizing medicine itself… Medicine and health are human concerns in the widest sense… The humanities can foster a depth of humane understanding, knowledge and experience.”
  • “The medical humanities encompass history, literature, philosophy, ethics, theology, sociology, anthropology and law. They value the aesthetic as well as reason, focus on meaning as well as emotion and explore ambiguity, uncertainty and complexity as well as theoretical lucidity. They offer understanding through synthesis as well as analysis. The humanities develop analysis of personal and professional values and the capacity for empathy and teamwork.”
  • “Often, more than the body or mind is broken: patients’ understanding of themselves is also disturbed.”
  • “A sound grounding in the arts and humanities can enable an effectively critical, humane and ethical response… [but] caution against pitfalls into which medical ethics has fallen: narrowing, specialization and professionalism which could result in the elimination of radically different approaches to the big questions and issues of life.”


Hugo Rodier, MD is an integrative physician based in Draper, Utah who specializes in healing chronic disease at the cellular level by blending proper nutrition, lifestyle changes, & allopathic practices when necessary.

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