Otherness in Doctor-Patient-Relationship: Seminar with Film Analysis

Department of Medical Ethics and History of Medicine

Funding: Universitätsmedizin Göttingen, LOM-Mittel

Duration: 2016

Carried out by:

  • Dr. Solveig Lena Hansen
  • Dr. Sabine Wöhlke


Historical and ethical aspects of otherness in medicine/medical treatment can be explored via the medium of film. Otherness emerges, for example, in everyday confrontations of actors when they are confronted with diseases which deviate from what is perceived as "normal". At the same time, the cinematic confrontation with previously unestablished technologies involves the examination of medical possibilities that were considered science fiction at the time of the film's release, but are actually implemented today. Finally, the medium of film provides access to the history of medicine, addressing inclusions and exclusions in health care as well as medical malpractice. By transforming reality and emphasizing emotionality, it sensitizes us to the moral perspective of the other, in which medical actors are embedded.

The aim of the seminar was to work with medical students on the topic of the other in film and its relevance to historical questions of medical ethics. The students learned how to analyze a fictional ethical conflict and its historical dimension.

The challenging task we set for our film didactics was to translate the filmic statement –which only emerges beyond the projection on the screen in the viewer’s mind – and the corresponding moral intuition regarding the received message into an argument.

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