Diminished capacity, friendship, and medical paternalism: Two case studies from fiction

Edmund L. Erde, Anne Hudson Jones

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    4 Scopus citations


    We consider the moral and social ingredients in physicians' relationships with patients of diminished capacity by considering certain claims made about friendship and the physician's role. To assess these claims we look at the life context of two patients as elaborated examples provided in two novels: Woman on the Edge of Time (1976) by Marge Piercy, a radical feminist; and It's Hard to Leave While the Music's Playing (1977) by I. S. Cooper, a prominent physician-researcher. At issue is how the doctor-patient relationship should be structured. In question is whether the physician's friendship and professional expertise, together with the diminished capacity of the patient, authorize medical paternalism. From our examination, we find compelling insights against appealing to friendship both in good doctor-patient relationships and in more typical, not-so-good ones.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)303-322
    Number of pages20
    JournalTheoretical Medicine
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Oct 1 1983


    • Diminished capacity
    • Fiction
    • Friendship
    • Institution of medicine
    • Medical paternalism
    • Neighborliness
    • Physician-patient relationship
    • Values

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Medicine (miscellaneous)
    • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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