The Persistence of Metaphor
This chapter historicizes therapeutic holism, the model of literary therapy The Poetics of Palliation challenges. Beyond the faith that literature and its tools can heal, therapeutic holism reflects three guiding assumptions: first, that healthy people are wholes whose unity depends on an anti-dualist, teleological self-concept; second, that broken holism is mended by literature through a dialectic process of reintegration; and third, that the holism of functioning individuals both parallels and is constructed by the holism of their society. The chapter illustrates therapeutic holism’s Romantic genealogy by comparing its appearance in health humanities scholarship with Romantic writing, particularly the organicist tradition of German Romantics like Friedrich Schiller. Along the way, it reviews the history of nineteenth-century medical ethics that forms the interdisciplinary background to the rest of the book, including a discussion of ethics’ role in medical professionalization; the history of palliative care; and the tradition of advocating education in the humanities as a way to ‘humanize’ physicians.
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