The Death of Ivan Illich: a Literary Example of Narrative Aspects in Medicine

DOI: 10.3238/zfa.2020.0166-0169

german translation / full article

Cornelia Ploeger, Jona Carlet, Mirjam Dieckelmann, Maria Hanf, Felix Wicke

Keywords: Tolstoy education literature in medicine narrative medicine patient-centered care

SummaryLiterary works offer specific insights into subjective aspects of disease and illness. During an elective seminar on “Narrative Aspects in Medicine” we read and discussed Tolstoy’s novella “The Death of Ivan Ilyich” with medical students. In this article we present the results of the discussions on the topics of power, communication, acknowledgement of suffering and meaning in the context of disease and illness. Tolstoy’s novella encourages us, as healthcare professionals, to be aware of and sensitive to the feelings and (subjective) wellbeing of our patients. Keywordsnarrative medicine; literature in medicine; Tolstoy, education; patient-centered care

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