The role of feelings in informed consent: An application of Bernard Lonergan's work on affect and cognition.

Title: The role of feelings in informed consent: An application of Bernard Lonergan's work on affect and cognition.
Authors: Markwell, Hazel Joyce.
Date: 2001
Abstract: Without the unprecedented progress which was experienced in the medical sciences during the last 150 years, it is unlikely that the legal doctrine of informed consent would have arisen. As a result of the advances and treatment innovations, claims against physicians became more common. The legal doctrine arose out of the realization that it was unethical to exclude the patient from choices concerning his/her treatment. As such it was paradigmatic of a relationship between the law and morality, in which morality informs the law and not vice-versa. However, this attempt at addressing an ethical issue by using the law as a guide and the ensuing shift in focus from trust in the physician's beneficence to the rights, autonomy and self-determination of the patient has created another problem in that it has strengthened the alienating behaviour common to many physicians, that of talking at patients rather than with them. The legal doctrine of informed consent has become an overly bureaucratic, impersonal, legal document which fails to adequately consider the highly personal nature of the physician-patient professional relationship. Further, the malaise in the doctrine of informed consent not only has implications for the practice of medicine but also for the authenticity of the human person, since, from an ethical and moral theological perspective, consent (from the Latin consentire---to feel or sense with) touches the entirety of the human subject as a person endowed with freedom, rationality and feelings. Given the integrity of the human person as a combination of both intellect and affect, consent as an expression of the combined faculties of reason and feelings implies a far more significant human action than a verbal expression or a written word. It is essentially a dynamic process of ongoing decision making which precludes its being limited to a mere rational-cognitive perspective. It is the hypothesis of this thesis that if feelings are interpreted and included in the process of decision making in the way in which Bernard Lonergan suggests, we could not only rehabilitate the doctrine of informed consent to a patient-focussed experience but we might also transform it into an effective therapeutic tool that is capable of encouraging human authenticity and enhancing the physician-patient relationship. In attempting to provide a new framework for informed consent, this thesis attempts to reshape the process of discourse. Since the expression of the affective has cultural variations, it has implications not only for personal authenticity, but also for societal transformation. This thesis will be both an analytical argument delving into the structure of informed consent and an attempt at formulating a new foundation for consent which blends the theological with the medico-legal.
CollectionTh├Ęses, 1910 - 2010 // Theses, 1910 - 2010
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