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A medicine of personal meaning does not necessarily depend on health or healing

Stephen Buetow


A decade ago I called for a medicine of meaning (MOM) but incorrectly deduced that MOM always depends on healing and helping.  I now wish to suggest that the practice of medicine need not promote the healing or health of individual patients in order for them to find or create meaning in their lives.  Personal meaning can be enhanced by medicine in the presence of ill-health, but enhancement medicine is increasingly used to help healthy patients add meaning to their lives.  Debate on the moral legitimacy of the medical enhancements has yet to furnish agreement, yet person-centred medicine reminds us how patients, as people, have a right and responsibility to freely make and act on subjectively rational choices about how to do and be what they want.  It respects their autonomy to select from medical options that can enhance meaning for them.  My paper sketches the content of a new MOM before anticipating and answering objections. 

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