Published online by Cambridge University Press: 06 December 2006
In The Healer's Power, Howard Brody placed the concept of power at the heart of medicine's moral discourse. Struck by the absence of “power” in the prevailing vocabulary of medical ethics, yet aware of peripheral allusions to power in the writings of some medical ethicists, he intuited the importance of power from the silence surrounding it. He formulated the problem of the healer's power and its responsible use as “the central ethical problem in medicine.” Through the prism of power he refracted a wide range of ethical problems, from informed consent to truth-telling, from confidentiality to futility, from the physician's fantasies to the physician's virtues. At times this prism shed new light on old problems, enabling us to see from an unexpected angle the elements of which the problem was composed. At other times it exposed issues of ethical significance that had been neglected in the bioethics literature.