Deborah Bowman on Shame, Stigma and Medicine

The current issue of Medical Humanities is guest-edited by Luna Dolezal and Barry Lyons and focuses on ‘Shame, Stigma and Medicine’.

Deborah Bowman turns to drama to ask how theatre is well-placed to explore the impact of shame in the clinical setting in her paper, ‘Vulnerability, Survival and Shame in Nina Rainer’s Tiger Country.’ Drawn to the challenging nature of the concept of shame and the way it interconnects multiple scholarly domains and issues, Bowman alights on the play Tiger Country for its focus on the clinical setting and its exploration of shame for clinical practitioners and the receivers of clinical care alike. Shame, Bowman argues, is often overlooked despite how fundamental it is to healthcare, and can lead to a range of sometimes debilitating mental illnesses, from stress, compassion fatigue, ethical erosion, burnout and ill-health. Tiger Country is well-positioned to explore the effects of shame on both the givers and receivers of healthcare, and as such it affords insight into the ways in which shame appears ubiquitous in healthcare institutions. In her audio introduction, Bowman describes in more detail why Tiger Country presents such a fascinating engagement with the issue of shame in healthcare settings.

Deborah Bowman is Professor of Medical Ethics at St. Georges University of London and a former editor of Medical Humanities.