Empathy takes centre stage at conference on ethics in medicine

IN an unusual mix of the arts and science, film screenings, theatre and an exhibition will highlight the role empathy can play in the practice of ethics in healthcare.

Do doctors really understand how their patients feel? Are hospital chains like department stores – just in it for the money? Have diagnostic tests replaced a doctor’s empathic ear?

These are some of the questions that will be raised in an evening of short plays, specially written for performance at the 5th National Bioethics Conference ( being held at St John’s Medical College, Bengaluru from December 11 to13.

Playwright Mahesh Dattani, who has reviewed the final drafts of the 10-minute skits, has said of them: “They pack in quite a punch with a remarkably mature sense of craft, in spite of their wackiness.”

While British director Alex Gabbay’s documentary on empathy, Love, Hate and Everything In Between, will set the tone of the mini film festival, The English Surgeon and Fire In The Blood, both award-winning films, will take forward the discussion about empathy and ethics in healthcare.

Gabbay, who will attend the screening of his film, said: “I am delighted the film is being screened at the NBC. Though it doesn’t directly deal with healthcare issues, the relevance of empathy can’t be over stressed in a doctor-patient relationship.”

Francoise Bosteels’ miniature dolls that tell evocative stories of those living on the margins of society, never fail to touch an empathic chord with the viewer. At the exhibition The Dolls Speak – Listen! about 80 of her dolls will be on view on various subjects such as homelessness, disability and violence against women.

All the shows will be FREE and open to the public.

The programme is being organised by Empathize Now! (,an initiative to advocate the role of empathy in prompting positive social change, and the Health and Humanities division of St John’s Research Institute.

Contacts for more information

For conference –, 080 494 66346

For Empathize Now! –, +91 99451 86802

For plays –, +91 99868 84372

For exhibition –

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