Biomedical Humanities

Recent advances in understanding the molecular bases of diseases, at the level of genetic predisposition as well as of its interaction with individual diversities, lifestyles and environments, are drastically changing our perceptions of diagnosis and therapy.

Given this scientific scenario, innovative foundational and ethical analyses are needed, and these could be provided inside a Biomedical Humanities framework. It is a humanistic approach addressing that chain which finishes with the care of patients in clinical practice and which commences with the basic and translational researches on the molecular roots of diseases, on how to detect them, and on how to cope with them by taking into account individual patients’ genetic makeups, diversities, lifestyles and aspirations.

In particular, the Focus Group on Biomedical Humanities at TUM-IAS works on how a good Ethical Counseling service could improve patient’s decision-making process whenever diversity issues (dealing with gender, sexuality, aging, culture, socio-economical status, religious beliefs, etc.) are on the stage.

By Ethical Counseling we intend a dialogic activity implementable in the cases in which clinical decisions involve ethical and existential issues. It has two different purposes. On the one hand, by clarifying and investigating patients’ belies and values, it assists them to break through their ethical decisional paralysis in clinical settings and to choose the option more in line with their ethical sensitivity. On the other hand, it trains clinicians to properly examine the ethical and existential problematic situations that their patients are facing, in order to go beyond their commonsensical and intuitive moral understanding and to avoid the dangerous conviction that their own way of thinking is better than patients’ one.

The Focus Group on Biomedical Humanities at TUM-IAS is composed of Giovanni Boniolo, Anna Boyksen Fellow, and of his TUM-host, Mariacarla Gadebush Bondio, Institute for History and Ethics of Medicine, TUM, and Ph.D. student Maria Rosak.