Like their office doors in the McGovern Center, articles by Dr. Nathan Carlin and Dr. Woods Nash appear just a few steps from each other in the January 2015 issue of the Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics. Dr. Nash’s “Narrative Ethics, Authentic Integrity, and an Intrapersonal Medical Encounter in David Foster Wallace’s ‘Luckily the Account Representative Knew CPR'” is the issue’s feature in Bioethics and Literature. Dr. Carlin’s “Doctors and Dr. Seuss: Restoring the Patient’s Voice” is the issue’s Bioethics Education feature. Abstracts for their articles appear below.
“Narrative Ethics, Authentic Integrity, and an Intrapersonal Medical Encounter in David Foster Wallace’s ‘Luckily the Account Representative Knew CPR”
In Wallace’s short story “Luckily the Account Representative Knew CPR,” a vice president (VP) suffers cardiac arrest. As an account representative (AR) administers CPR, he discovers his own impersonality mirrored back to him by the VP—a disturbing vision of himself that the AR wishes to escape. Because modern moral theories would have the AR respond impersonally to the VP, those theories would only exacerbate his existential predicament. In contrast, by regarding the AR’s act as one that he, in particular, should perform, narrative ethics can discern a resolution for his predicament: because the AR still values his diminished capacities for care and spontaneity, this situation offers him an opportunity to revive those former traits. Doing so would give him greater authentic integrity, or narrative continuity with the most important aspects of this past. Authentic integrity can serve narrative ethics as a helpful starting point for understanding how the life stories of patients, clinicians, and others might appropriately unfold.
“Doctors and Dr. Seuss: Restoring the Patient’s Voice”
In 2012, Dartmouth College renamed its medical school, founded in 1797, the Audrey and Theodor Geisel School of Medicine. Using the renaming of the medical school of Dartmouth College as a foil, I offer in this article a vision of what it might mean to align Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, with doctors by examining Geisel’s You’re Only Old Once! A Book for Obsolete Children. In this article, I derive four critiques of modern medicine from the book and offer four strategies as to how these critiques could be explored in medical education. If You’re Only Old Once! is read as a pathography, I argue that it can be used as a resource for medical education.