Volume 2022 Number 3
  • EISSN: 2223-506X


In her , Dr. Nawal El-Saadawi, an Egyptian physician, writer and feminist, describes the development of her existential questions as a human being and a doctor throughout her life changes and the interaction with her socio-cultural patriarchal context. Following a crisis in her professional identity, Dr. El-Saadawi questions the meaning of doctoring, the doctor-patient relationship, and life as well as the absurdity of death and alienation. A young woman died while giving birth to her first child, and Dr. El-Saadawi's failure to save the woman's life changed her self-positioning in relation to medicine and the sanctity of science. This experience caused her to sanctify human beings and the humanity of doctors, rather than sanctifying their knowledge only, and created an acute awareness of the link between her body, mind and soul. She writes “The focus of the struggle inside me widened out from masculinity and femininity to embrace humankind as a whole. Human beings appeared to be insignificant creatures in spite of their muscles, their brain cells and the complexity of their arterial and nervous systems. A small microbe, invisible to the naked eye, could be breathed in through the nose and eat away at the cells of the lungs. An unidentifiable virus could strike at random and make the cells of the liver or spleen or any other part of the body multiply at a crazy rate and devour everything around them […] I found my feet taking me in a completely new direction.” (p. 21). In the end, she finds relief for her soul in her love for a musician and attributes music to rescuing her from darkness. Drawing on content-thematic analysis of the memoirs, in this presentation I make an analogy between the crisis that Dr. El-Saadawi experienced, and the potential crises that health care providers (HCPs) faced during their work in the first stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the existential and philosophical questions suggested by Dr. El-Saadawi, in this presentation, I suggest that we look behind the scenes of the ICU and think in-depth about healthcare providers' existential experiences during the COVID-19 outbreak - a global crisis that can be very personal for the HCPs. We will discuss how the crisis and facing death on daily basis could influence healthcare providers' existential and philosophical perceptions, when they are unable to control a virus and save lives.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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