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Both “arts in health” and medical humanities may have therapeutic roles, and a shared concern with creative imagination in health care
Medical humanities is still in the first flush of youth—if not infancy—and questions about its nature, scope, and identity continue to occupy those engaged in it. One of these questions concerns its relationship to the “arts in health” movement, and thus to the therapeutic roles for creative and expressive arts in the clinical situation. This relationship is far from clear, and on examination it is a complicated and intriguing one.
In this journal we proposed from the outset a distinction between two contrasting approaches to medical humanities. We suggested the terms “additive” and “integrated” to mark the contrast, arguing thus:
The [additive] is concerned with complementing medical science and technology through the contrasting perspective of the arts and humanities, but without either side impinging on the other. The [integrated] aims to refocus the whole of medicine in relation to an understanding of what it is to be fully human; the reuniting of technical and humanistic knowledge and practice is central to this enterprise.1
One of us has also suggested that “ . . . the medical arts are essentially an ornament to medicine, whilst the medical humanities are an integral part of it”.2 If for “medical arts” we read “arts in health” it would seem that arts in health fits well with the additive approach to medical humanities, but has little or nothing to do with the integrated approach. This might tempt us to think of arts in health as a kind of subset of medical humanities.
That simple solution will not, however, do. Quite apart from its (diplomatically) rather unhelpful territoriality, it assumes that all medical humanities practices and inquiries are alike, and also that all …