Literature and Medicine: A Teaching Model for the Students and Practitioners of
The subspecialty of literature and medicine is significant, not only as a supplement to an education in biomedicine and science, but also as a serious engagement in the pursuit of humane feeling essential in the cultivation of health professionals. I aim to convince the instructors of medicine and health care in Japan that incorporating a program of literature and medicine in their curricula is important to create health professionals endowed with skills of narrative analysis and interpretation, and other essential qualities required in the practitioner-patient relationship, such as empathy, moral imagination, and ethical reflection. In Part I, I outline the emergence and development of literature and medicine in the United States and initiate Japanese faculty into the historical necessity of the birth of the subspecialty and the therapeutic effect of reading texts of literature for the well-being of future clinicians. Another objective of my dissertation is to demonstrate to the scholars of literature and medicine in the United States the importance of cultural diversity in the selection of reading materials. Cross-cultural sensitivity has been one of the most urgent issues in the practice of medicine, health care, and bioethics. Part II is so crafted that Japanese educators may note the possibility of their literary tradition serving to expose their students to opportunities for moral inquiry and deliberation. Reading Japanese works of literature with topics that deeply concern the human condition may work for Western audiences as an enrichment program of cultural awareness and literacy. Part III offers my model programs for an international collaboration in literature and medicine. I have selected nine pairs of Western and Japanese texts of literature and illness narrative. This part also works as an advanced course of English comprehension for Japanese students. By reading each combination of works that have a common theme, one can be aware of differences in ways medical and ethical issues, such as autonomy and decision making, are addressed in another culture and can acknowledge universally compelling human suffering in the descriptions of pain, illness, aging, relationships, caring, and dying and death.