In recent years a large empirical literature has appeared on suffering at the end of life. In this literature it is recognized that suffering has existential and social dimensions in addition to physical and psychological ones. The non-physical aspects of suffering, however, are still understood as pathological symptoms, to be reduced by therapeutical interventions as much as possible. But suffering itself and the negative emotional states it consists of are intentional states of mind which, as such, make cognitive claims: they are more or less appropriate responses to the actual circumstances of the patient. These circumstances often are such that it would rather be a pathological symptom not to be sad and not to suffer. Suffering, therefore, is sometimes and to some extent a condition to be respected. Although I do not dispute that the alleviation of suffering is the main aim of palliative care, in pursuing that aim we should acknowledge a constraint of realism.
"Medicine, Health Care & Philosophy" – Springer Journals
Published: Apr 3, 2017
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