While incorporation of the medical humanities into medicine curricula is a growing phenomenon globally, such curriculum planning is often ill-conceived, piecemeal, and can meet with solid resistance from those with purely biomedical interests.
These objections can be met by curriculum planning that privileges process over content and recognises that biomedical science itself has unrealised potential in terms of its aesthetic, ethical and political worth - traditionally the value domains of the arts and humanities.
Such a shift challenges dominant instrumentalism in biomedicine to reveal previously untapped qualities, such as metaphor yield in clinical language, linked to development of tolerance of ambiguity. The startling reality is that traditional medical education carries as yet unaddressed symptoms (as inherent contradictions) that guarantee a dysfunctional medicine down the line. These include: treating curriculum as content (syllabus as technical content) rather than process (the making of self); refusal of democracy (symptomized as promotion of hierarchy and patriarchal habits at the expense of patient safety); intolerance of ambiguity (symptomized as premature closure in reasoning and activity); the blunting of sensitivity (symptomized as the widespread phenomena of empathy decline and cynicism); and the blunting, or compulsory mis-education, of sensibility (symptomized as emotional insulation) and self-care (symptomized as burnout).
The careful introduction of arts, humanities and qualitative social sciences can act as a psychotherapeutic corrective to such symptoms, as biomedicine too is enriched in quality and intensity.