Raniszewska-Wyrwa Agnieszka
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50(2014)2 - Papers

Agnieszka Raniszewska-Wyrwa

The ethics of touch. Ethical aspects of using touch in therapeutic practice

  • Language: Polish


Abstract

Touch is one of the most important needs of a human; it is a significant element of human development. Touch can be healing, neutral as well as detrimental. On one hand, through touch one can grant the feeling of a safe environment, facilitate the establishment of emotional bonds and increase the feeling of trust, however on the other hand it may intensify the existing trauma or cause unpleasant feelings. Touch can be a basic tool in therapy (e.g. a healing massage) or an addition to verbal therapy (e.g. psychotherapy).

Despite the many positive effects of using touch in therapy, nowadays therapists often renounce such a form of contact with the patient. One of the main reasons given is the need to avoid so-called hazardous behaviours; as touch can be misinterpreted and in consequence cause problems for the therapist. According to some authors, restraining from touch that might be beneficial to the patient, simply out of a fear of possible consequences, is unethical. It is often stressed that the lack of any contact may have a detrimental impact upon therapy. On the other hand there are numerous reservations concerning the use of touch in therapy; the difference of power is most often referred to, as it may be overused by the therapist, as well as the possibility that a therapeutic touch may be the first step towards the initiation of sexual behaviour − such convictions pose significant obstacles in seeing the positive meaning of touch in therapy. Considering the above context, the question of when and how to use touch in therapy, especially in psychotherapy, becomes significant. An attempt at answering this question is one of the objectives of this paper.

 

 
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49(2013)3 - Papers

Agnieszka Raniszewska-Wyrwa

Ethical-medical reflections of Wladyslaw Bieganski (1857−1917)

  • Language: Polish


Summary

Wladyslaw Bieganski was one of the most famous philosophers of medicine in Polish history, living at the turn of the 19th and 20th century. In his numerous works he considered, among others, the place of ethics and philosophy in a doctor’s work. He stressed that medical art constitutes of actual and ethical parts, with the first one being conditioned by the development of empirical knowledge, while the ethical part is not directly connected to science and thought, but with feelings that rule the world and with general ethical ideals of humanity. According to Bieganski, the attempts to put ethical rules, which should be in effect in the medical profession, into codes and regulations will remain ineffective as long as they are not established in the internal feeling of morality of the representatives of the medical profession. He called for the reform of the medical teaching system in a way that it would not only grant scientific knowledge but also shape the ability of a holistic approach to the patient, requiring the development of a sense of duty, compassion and respect for another person, which should be done not with words but by setting an example, as one should always demand the most of oneself. Good doctors are not those who only heal physical ailments, but those who “do not lose patience and calm in long suffering and desperate cases and [are] able to inspire the patient and his family with confidence”. Postulated by Bieganski, the pattern of doctor-philanthropist and the set of his typical virtues is close to the model of trustworthy carer presented by Tadeusz Kotarbinski. Despite the passage of time, Bieganski’s thoughts on ethical culture of doctors seems not to have lost its relevance; on the contrary – it is growing, emphasizing the humane dimension of medicine, which unfortunately more and more often is lost in the age of developing consumerism – and hence always remains an ideal to which it belongs, seeks and promotes well today, especially in the circles of the healthcare community.