Dr. Brewer Eberly, TMC Fellow ’17, recently published an article in Hektoen International entitled, “Let them see what I see: Beauty, Suffering, and Learning to See,” on the relationship between aesthetics and ethics in medical practice.
“Charles Stegeman, professor of fine arts at Haverford College, once took up the task of teaching medical students how to draw. He did so because he observed that students who learned to draw well went on to perform better in anatomy.1 They could see better, not just in terms of spatial representation, but in seeing and attending to the wholeness of things.
Today’s medical education does not form trainees to see with this sense of wholeness. Instead, they are often trained to disarticulate what is whole: suffering persons become suffering bodies. Suffering bodies become anatomical systems. Anatomical systems become organs, tissues, and cells. As internist and philosopher Jeffrey Bishop puts it, the clinical gaze anticipates not a person, but a corpse….”2