Isolation and Suffering Related to Serious and Terminal Illness: Metaphors and Lessons From Albert Camus' Novel, The Plague.
Health care providers have much to learn from Albert Camus' great novel, The Plague. The Plague tells the story of a bubonic plague epidemic through the lens of doctor-narrator Rieux. In addition to Rieux, this essay also focuses on the perspective of Father Paneloux, a Jesuit priest, who provides important religious commentary on the epidemic, before falling victim to it and dying. Camus' masterful engagement of the metaphor of isolation and its profound impact on suffering emphasizes the important role of community and spiritual perspectives of patients and providers in coping with serious illness, death, and dying. The Plague is relevant today, particularly given the challenges of distancing, alienation, and isolation imposed by not only disease but also by technology and clinical and administrative practices that have unintended consequences of incentivizing separation between patient and healer, thus engendering greater stress and suffering in both.
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