Philosophy of The Big Society

David Cameron gets to be God!

Saturday, 7 February 2009

The honour of empathy

This picture was painted by Luke Fildes. It depicts the night his son died. It was a Christmas Eve and Fildes was so touched by the dedication and compassion of the doctor who attended his son that when asked by Tate (of Tate Gallery fame) to do a commission (with a medical theme) this is what he produced.

I saw it on 'The One Show' the other night and even from within my benzo enduced numbness it touched me pretty deeply.

The picture, so the story goes, became 'iconic' for medical professionals who wanted to gain credibility and trust.

For me, it symbolises something human and essential (or should be) but that has been undermined and eroded by the corporations and their idea of what a 'modern' care organisation is all about..with particular importance in MH services.

All the antiseptics can say "Well the boy died and he would have survived today" and quite possibly he would have but that is not the point of this image. Not for me.

I have written too much already. The picture should speak for itself and people will read from it what they will.


  1. Here here Mandy. I love that painting, I could look at it for hours.

    Lola x

  2. Brill painting. Compassion is something priceless but easily overlooked. Treating people as people and not as case studies and statistics. Sadly lacking now.x

  3. I wasn't aware of this pic before. It's extremely evocative...

  4. It's a moving painting with real social meaning and worth and as relevant today within MH as it was for the medical profession generally in the age it was created in only for the wrong reason .

    There is very little compassion shown by MH professionals nowadays and if Fildes was commissioned to produce a work summarising their contribution to the culture today it would be of Trust board members stuffing their faces at great public expense at board meetings or locked doors, CCTV's, and neglected patients locked out in an uncaring community or cheap agency staff who can barely speak a word of English trying to convert distressed patients to christianity on the wards.

    He'd definitely have real problems getting the permanent MH professionals to sit for him as they are mostly away on ' training days' or taking ' annual leave'

    Thanks for Sharing

  5. Hi folks

    Thanks for dropping by and sharing your views on the painting.