Published online by Cambridge University Press: 23 April 2021
Stephen Pender explores the confected relationship between counsel, compassion and friendship – in doctor-patient relationships, in conceptions of ideal physicians as virtuous friends – in medical thought between c. 1500 and 1780. How does compassion condition bedside counsel as well as strictures about ideal medical practice? What inspires confidence in a physician at the bedside? What engenders trust and ‘friendship’? Drawing on early modern English texts, Pender argues that conversations between physicians and patients were characterised by trust and compassion, and offers several instances in which friendship is advanced as a framework, a structure of feeling, for exploring vulnerability, suffering, physical and psychic distemper. From antiquity on, ideal physicians and true friends shared virtue, care, timeliness, moderate candour; portraits of friends borrowed medical metaphors, while physicians mobilised the qualities of friendship to aid, and to describe, their care.
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