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Cool Intimacies of Care for Contemporary Clinical Practice

Atkinson, S; Macnaughton, J; Saunders, C; Evans, M

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C Saunders

M Evans


The practices of medicine across history and culture illuminate the centrality of the physical intimacy of touch in the expression of the healer's care. Yet much of modern western medicine diminishes the value of intimacy in the expertise of the clinician, and marginalises emotionally inflected practices into categories of care that are separate from the expertise of the clinician. Can such a divide between the objectifying clinical gaze and the intimacy of emotional care be made without losing something vital to the therapeutic processes of healing? To reinvigorate debate about the place of intimacy for contemporary clinical practice, we look back to medieval literature, which illuminates two traditions in understanding intimacy and its interconnections with healing. One of these traditions has become dominant in modern health care; we call for a re-engagement with the second in contemporary clinical practice.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Nov 18, 2010
Deposit Date Nov 17, 2010
Publicly Available Date Jul 3, 2012
Journal The Lancet
Print ISSN 0140-6736
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 376
Issue 9754
Pages 1732-1733
Public URL


Accepted Journal Article (195 Kb)

Copyright Statement
NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in The Lancet. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in The Lancet, 376, 9754, 2010, 10.1016/S0140-6736(10)62123-X

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