Meaning of Meaninglessness: Operational Logic of Hospice Care in Taiwan

Friday, 20 July 2018: 08:40
Oral Presentation
Hsiao-Mei JUAN, National Chung Cheng University, Taiwan
Taiwan is an aging society and cancer has recently become the leading cause of death. With the development of medical technologies, it is possible to prolong the physical sign of life. However, patients as well as their families often suffer physical and emotional pain in the use of the invasive treatment. Hospice care is therefore introduced into the medical practice, as a reflection of medicine, turning invalid cure into palliative care.

This essay treats hospice care as a new form of medical treatment. It deals mainly not with the illness, but the pain – in regard to body and mind. Using in-depth interview texts, this essay examines the operational logic of hospice care in Taiwan. Some patients and their families reveal in the interviews that it is meaningless to continue accepting general treatment. Further examination, however, shows us that this meaninglessness means a lot. It does not connote abandonment of treatment. Instead, this meaninglessness is precisely where we can see how hospice care in Taiwan is operated and transformed. Reflecting on this meaninglessness, this essay examines the following issues: the reshaping of value of life and death in light of ethics of time, ethics of economy, and relational autonomy, the shift of filial piety, the idea of good dying and finally the withdrawal and employ of technologies. By so doing, it hopes to figure out the transformation of hospice care from impossibility into possibility in medical treatment.