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Description de l’éditeur
Coriolanus, the legendary fifth-century BC general who turned against his native city for banishing him, is painted by Shakespeare as the paragon Stoic warrior. Physically strong and detached, at home in the battlefield, he is the military man par excellence. Fearless, he sheds few tears. But the turning point in Shakespeare's play comes when Coriolanus remembers how to weep. He admits that "It is no small thing to make mine eyes sweat compassion." The absence of compassion in health care is increasingly remarked upon. In 2009, it led to a campaign to broaden New Zealand's Code of Patients' Rights to include the legal right "to have services provided with compassion, including a prompt and humane response to suffering." As health and disability commissioner in New Zealand for the past decade, I was in the midst of the country's debate over this change. In this essay, I discuss the nature of compassion, its place as a virtue in medicine, and the implications of the proposed law change.