Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription Access


Peter Musaeus


Purpose: To examine philosophical stances underpinning medical identity and assess the conceptual relationship between physician, medical practice, and culture.

Argument: Medical identity is about the ideals and moral positions that physicians take when justifying themselves. Medical identity is the study of the sociocultural paragons that conceptually underlie the phenomenology of physician’s coming to take themselves as autonomous social agents. The paper relies on Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit and investigates dilemmas pertaining to first objectivist versus subjectivist views and second hedonistic versus sentimentalist approaches to medical identity. The sociocultural philosophical analysis of medical identity can shed light on what it means conceptually for a physician to harbor beliefs associated with her being taken to be an autonomous professional.

Conclusion: Medical identity should be analyzed with reference to literature, philosophy, and medical practice in order for the physician to a reflective position, which is both scientifically rational and subjectively meaningful. 

Full Text:



Cooke, M., Irby, D.M. & O'Brien, B.C. (2010). Educating Physicians. A Call for Reform of Medical School and Residency. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Zaytseva, Y., Gutyrchik, E., Bao, Y., Pöppel, E., Han, S., Northoff, G., Welker, L., Meindl, T. & Blautzik, J. (2014). Self processing in the brain: a paradigmatic fMRI case study with a professional singer. Brain and Cognition 87, 104-108.

Coulehan, J. (2005). Today’s professionalism: Engaging the mind but not the heart. Academic Medicine 80, 892-898.

Hegel, G.W.F. (1977). Phenomenology of spirit. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Rhodes, R. & Cohen, D.S. (2003). Understanding, being and doing: Medical ethics in medical education. Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 12 (1) 39-53

Monrouxe, L.V. (2010). Identity, identification and medical education: Why should we care? Medical Education 44, 40-49.

Lave, J. & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Pinkard, T. (1996). Hegel's Phenomenology: The Sociality of Reason. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wartofsky, M.W. (2000). Bodies, Body Parts, and Body Language: Reflections on Ontology and Personal Identity in Medical Practice. In: The Philosophy of Medicine: Framing the Field ( Engelhardt, H.T. Jr. ed.). pp. 37-55. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Sade, R.M. (1995). Health and disease: the subjectivist-objectivist dichotomy. Journal of Medical Philosophy 20, 513-525.

Warner, J.H. (1991). Grand Narrative and Its Discontents: Medical History and the Social Transformation of American Medicine. Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law 29 (4-5) 757-780

Ackerknecth. E.H. (1982). A Short History of Medicine. Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press..

Montgomery, K. (2013). How Doctors Think: Clinical Judgment and the Practice of Medicine. Oxford: University Press.

Cassel, E.J. (2004). The Nature of Suffering and the Goals of Medicine. Oxford: University Press.

Marcum, J. (2008). An introductory philosophy of medicine: Humanizing modern medicine. New York: Springer.

Fox, R. & Lief, H. (1963). Training for “detached concern.” In: The Psychological Basis of Medical Practice. (Lief, H. ed.), pp.12-35. New York: Harper & Row.

Swick, H.M. (2007). Viewpoint: professionalism and humanism beyond the academic health center. Academic Medicine 82, 1022-1028.

Binswagner, H.C. (1998). The Challenge of Faust. Science 281, 640-641.

Hughes, P.H., Brandenburg, N., Baldwin, D.C, Jr., Storr, C,L,, Williams, K.M. & Sheehan, D.V. (1992). Prevalence of substance use among US physicians. Journal of the American Medical Association 267, 2333-2339.

Gartrell, N.K, Milliken, N., Goodson III, W.H., Thiemann, S. & Lo, B. (1992). Physician-patient sexual contact - prevalence and problems. Western Journal of Medicine 157, 139-143.

Miles, A. & Asbridge, J.E. (2013). Contextualizing science in the aftermath of the evidence-based medicine era: on the need for person-centered healthcare. European Journal for Person Centered Healthcare 1 (2) 285-289.

Miles, A. & Asbridge, J.E. (2014). Clarifying the concepts, epistemology and lexicon of person-centeredness: an essential pre-requisite for the effective operationalization of PCH within modern healthcare systems. European Journal for Person Centered Healthcare 2 (1) 1-15.



  • There are currently no refbacks.