Uncovering the ethics of suffering using a narrative approach.

Research paper by Maj-Britt MB Råholm

Indexed on: 22 Dec '07Published on: 22 Dec '07Published in: Nursing ethics


The purpose of this article is to portray the ethics of suffering based on the published literature. Narrative use has become common in the fields of nursing education and curriculum development and in the determination of practice competencies. Understanding the ethics of suffering implies a hermeneutic movement between alienation and dedication. To understand the ethical significance of human suffering, the scene of suffering is described through the concepts of: to endure, to struggle, to sacrifice life and health, and to become. To respond, to discover, to approach, to touch and to shape patients' different patterns of life implies responsibility: to see, to affirm their dignity by being, and to express this in ethical words. Narration plays a crucial role in transforming suffering, that is, reformulating patients' stories. It is vital that educators should create a learning environment where students can find the courage and intention to be present and listen to patients' narratives.