Medical Humanities is an untranslatable and often misconstrued term, born – along with Bioethics – in the United States in the 60s, in the context of what is known as the “contemporary crisis in medicine”. It encompasses the idea of offering cultural and cognitive tools to health practitioners allowing them to establish a better, “more human”, and trusting relationship with the patients and their illness. The effort of “re-humanizing” medical education and practice emphasizes the concepts of human vulnerability, individual autonomy, empathy, and responsibility for the other as part of the basic identity of human beings. This is a need of the last decades that, drawing from a long and rich history, has tried to express the various experiences of illness, suffering, and care through painting, sculpture, and literature
To give an idea of how complex and fascinating are both the subjects of Medical Humanities and their history, this publication collects some of the lectures presented at the Summer Course organized in September 2014 by the Fondazione Lanza, Center of Advanced Studies in Ethics and Bioethics in Padova since 1989, in collaboration with the Chair of History of Medicine at University of Padova and the Chair of Medical History and Ethics at the University of Marmara of Istanbul. The main purpose of this book is to emphasize the Italian tradition and the value of the cultural heritage of Padua.