Clinical sympathy: the important role of affectivity in clinical practice

Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 22 (4):499-513 (2019)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Bioethics has begun to see the revaluation of affects in medical practice, but not all of them, and not necessarily in the sense of affects as we know them. Empathy has been accepted as important for good medical practice, but only in a way that strips it of its affectivity and thus prevents other affects, like sympathy, from being accepted. As part of a larger project that aims at revaluing the importance of affectivity in medical practice, the purpose of this paper is to develop a clinical sympathy that can serve as a trainable skill for medical professionals. While everyday sympathy may be problematic as a professional skill for physicians, this does not imply that sympathy should be entirely rejected. As a natural part of our moral psychology, sympathy is an intersubjective affect that aids in our interactions with others and our decision-making abilities. I present here a theory of clinical sympathy as an affective response to patients, in which physicians are both attuned to their affective response and understand how their affects are influencing their beliefs and judgments. In this way, clinical sympathy serves as a trainable skill that can aid physicians in their interactions with their patients.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 93,296

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Humor and sympathy in medical practice.Carter Hardy - 2020 - Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 23 (2):179-190.
Should physicians be empathetic? Rethinking clinical empathy.David Schwan - 2018 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 39 (5):347-360.
Hume's influence on John Gregory and the history of medical ethics.Laurence B. McCullough - 1999 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 24 (4):376 – 395.
Should Doctors Care about their Patients?Charlie Kurth - 2022 - Philosophy of Medicine 3 (1):1-2.
The relationship between empathy and sympathy in good health care.Fredrik Svenaeus - 2015 - Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 18 (2):267-277.


Added to PP

30 (#550,897)

6 months
12 (#243,143)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Carter Hardy
Worcester State University

Citations of this work

Humor and sympathy in medical practice.Carter Hardy - 2020 - Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 23 (2):179-190.
Disenchantment and clinical ethics.Henk ten Have & Bert Gordijn - 2019 - Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 22 (4):497-498.

Add more citations