Faith healing and faith in healing
Sarkar and Seshadri have presented an interesting paper in this issue on the ethical approach that a physician should take when faced with requests for faith healing. The paper describes four approaches that the physician can take. These are rejecting the request, keeping oneself detached from the issue, endorsing the request and trying to understand the practices concerned so as to make a reasoned decision. This commentary attempts to explore the issue of faith healing further, from the point of view of clinical care. It shall discuss five important dimensions which can supplement the arguments by Sarkar and Seshadri. These are the concepts of faith, spirituality and religion and faith healing; the difference between cure and healing; patient-centred care; the various factors influencing a doctor’s response to requests for faith healing; and finally, the ethical issues to be considered while making a decision. Before launching into the discussion, it should be made clear that this commentary refers mainly to those faith healing practices which are not overtly harmful, such as prayers, and wearing rings and amulets.
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