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Phenomenology and its relevance to medical humanities: the example of Hermann Schmitz’s theory of feelings as half-things
  1. Mathias Wirth
  1. University of Bern, Faculty of Theology, Bern, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to Ass. Prof. Dr Mathias Wirth, University of Bern, Faculty of Theology, Department of Systematic Theology; mathias.wirth{at}


One leitmotif that medical humanities shares with phenomenology and most contemporary medical ethics is emphasising the importance of appreciating the patient as a whole person and not merely as an object. With this also comes a focus on marginalisation and invisibility. However, it is not entirely clear what exactly patient-centred care means. What both phenomenology and medical humanities contribute to a ‘more humane health-care encounter’ (Goldenberg 2010, p 44) is offering not only a first-person perspective, but a dialogue between the third-person perspective and evidence-based medicine. Therefore, one main aim of medical humanities and phenomenology is to pay attention to the lived body (Leib) while adding this to the science of the objective body (Körper). In this study, I will discuss this connection through the lens of Hermann Schmitz’s phenomenology. Finally, in light of this dialogue between phenomenology and medical humanities some proposals for medical practice shall be suggested.

  • medical anthropology
  • medical education
  • medical humanities
  • philosophy of medicine/healthcare

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  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.