Pablo L. Raso: Art is an unforgettable experience that transforms and improves human beings

Art is not meant to be a self-referential discipline, but rather to be able to transform the artist’s own life and take him or her to another place with its teaching: an unforgettable experience that is intrinsic to the betterment of the human being.

Through a brief tour of four outstanding works, the director of the Degree in Design and Fine Arts at the UFV, Pablo López Raso, accompanies the spectator through the four questions of Expanded Reason and explains what the meaning is from the point of view of art.

Click on the image to see the video of the anthropological question

Anonymous (40,000 BC). The Lion Man of Ulm

It is difficult to choose a piece that speaks of man in all his dimensions. Pablo López Raso, the director of the Degree in Design and Fine Arts at the UFV, quotes Professor Mc Gregor when he talks about this sculpture in his book “Living with the gods” and clarifies that “it is not so much what it represents, but what it hides: the very origin of art”.

This Lion Man dates back some 40,000 years and, although earlier cave paintings are known, they are of animals. It is the first time in prehistoric times that an upright person has been depicted as a lion. What is interesting is the differential between man and animal: his symbolic mind, his capacity for metaphorical expression, which introduces transcendent beliefs that go beyond himself and speak of man’s dialogue with mystery, right from his beginnings.

It also refers to the attributes of a man who lives in a hostile nature and would like to have powers: the intelligence of the owl, the vision of the eagle and the courage of the lion. If what governed existence in ancient times was survival, how long must it have taken to carve several pieces of mammoth horn, which is how this figure is formed, to insinuate movement and give him the authority to stand like a Lion man?

The question of the man is about the awareness of his own existence, of his identity, given that he has memory and a past: “This Lion Man speaks of a story, the narrative has to do with the ancestors and the capacity to imagine and dream, to project himself into the future, to be the hero that the Lion Man was meant to be”. Art, apart from being useless, as Oscar Wilde said, is spiritual nourishment, an attribute of homo sapiens, thanks to which the human being’s concern for the transcendent and the representation of the sacred is exhibited.

Click on the image to see the video of the epistemology question

Ilya and Emilia KABAKOV (1984). The Man Who Flew into Space From His Apartment

This is a work of conceptual art and a manifestation of the group world, which is understood by its context. The Ukrainian author and his wife know how to be witnesses of an era, in which, through an installation with a very contemporary format without physical support, they fabricate an atmosphere so that the spectator is impregnated with an experience and draws an idea or conclusion in his own conscience.

Pablo L. Raso argues that it is a “crazy situation”. Kabakov was a Soviet citizen who lived under the communist dictatorship, which is why the reflection of truth fits in with that of freedom itself, since adapting to reality is the encounter with truth. In that totalitarian system, creator of fiction and false utopias, he aspired to true knowledge, without deception.

“His work is surprising because the rubber seat is reminiscent of Wile E. Coyote’s inventions in those Roadrunner cartoons”, jokes the director of the Degree. Thus, a person who is subjected to the repression of his ideas by an anti-democratic system recreates a minimal flat, lines the walls with immersive and threatening propaganda, and transmits the pride of the USSR for conquering space with Sputnik: “They lived in a big lie because it was a country where people lived with just enough, without luxuries, in survival mode, and the author tries to escape from reality in a surreal and ridiculous way”.

In fact, the subtitle is: “He hasn’t found it yet”. In short, it reflects the dream of any dissident and art can be seen as a method of denouncing falsehood: “In this irony there is a lot of truth”, the teacher remarks.

Click on the image to see the video of the ethic question

Marc CHAGALL. Flying over the City (1918)

The ethical question is the question of the good, as a natural aspiration of the human being, beyond the fact that the circumstances of life mark out other paths that lead away from this ideal and generate justifications. Professor López Raso understands that Chagall is a model, not only for his work, but also for his ethical attitude in his work and existence.

He is an artist within the Paris avant-garde, “a loose verse”, whom the surrealists would accept as an antecedent. He is a Jew in Tsarist Russia who lived through the Bolshevik Revolution, lived concentrated in ghettos, yet loved life and aspired to happiness in the midst of unjust persecutions. Most shockingly, when he was in Paris visiting his girlfriend, with whom he has a self-portrait of himself flying, the First World War broke out, and he had to stay there. He was lucky enough to be reunited with his beloved, but his artistic progression was cut short.

In this work he metaphorically reflects the happiness of the person, that of the artist, to live love. He is interested in the world of fables, tales and legends, and he creates a mythical world of his own, in which he takes to the air in a state of falling in love, which he represents literally.

It has to do with good because it expresses the understanding of a world that is always an opportunity and intrinsically good. When Hitler comes to power, which causes him to flee to the USA again, he continues to bet on a work full of love and hope, giving back good in the face of so much hate and sharing the donation with the person he loves the most.

Click on the image to see the video of the sense question

Paul GAUGUIN (1897-98): Where do we come from? Who are we? Where are we going?

The image speaks of the meaning of Gauguin’s life and of the meaning of the life of any human being. According to the director López Raso, this author is not exactly an example of ethics, but rather of selfishness because he was only interested in his own prosperity. He was a stockbroker in Paris and decided to go off to paint with his Impressionist friends, abandoning his wife and children. Paradoxically, he devoted himself to seeking the pure feeling of the primitive world, without the poison of material interest.

He painted the picture at the end of his life, after many travels and vices, obsessed by France’s oceanic colonies. In Tahiti he made his life a pursuit of pleasure, in fact, he famously had relations with underage women and transmitted syphilis. But in this case Tolkien made a reflection about him that also convinces Pablo López Raso, and that is that, although in his life he was a scoundrel, it is in such a spectacular and high quality work that the uncorrupted region of this person is to be found.

He painted the mural after a bad experience: when he returned to Paris with a reputation as an artist, he was not as successful as expected. He became more ruined, remorse set in, he learned of the death of a daughter, suffered from various illnesses (including liver disease due to drinking) and fell into depression. Friends encouraged him to return to Tahiti, but when he arrived he attempted suicide.

The image, on sackcloth (potato sack), conveys a moment of lucidity in which he asks himself the big question: what is life about and what is its purpose. This work is a vital testament to what life consists of. The narrative runs from right to left: from birth, the fullness of the fruit, social relations, the transcendent totem, to the mummy who represents the end. The old and ailing Gauguin finally understands the meaning of life, which he has not given it to him.




Laura Martín, director of Grado Educación: “Learning only makes sense if it is in relation to life, contributes to asking questions and wants good for others”

The International Conference The Educational Power of Relationships, which will take place on 7 and 8 October, is an opportunity to deepen and analyse the importance of the educator on the relationships in the classroom that have an impact on people’s lives. The director of the Bachelor’s Degree in Education stresses that this initiative arises from the UFV’s concern to educate in a person-centred model and its conception has a humanist basis of education that understands and attends to all the dimensions of man: affective, volitional and cognitive: “In all these dimensions the relational part is crucial and it will be a moment in which the community of teachers, mentors and students share the fruits of an educational task that has a great impact on the life of people’s lives”.

Every person’s desire to learn is relational in order to achieve fulfilment. In her opinion, the educator must be aware that the relationship is the key to meaningful learning, and this only occurs when the student sees that his teacher believes in him and is interested in his gifts and potential.

In this way, the teacher becomes a point of reference for wisdom and life. From the classroom, a two-way encounter is generated in which the best comes out of the student and this contributes to his or her personal growth. There really is a link between individual and group help, since the feeling of belonging also increases and the community grows at the same time: “The teacher, on the one hand, works on the improvement plan of the student and, on the other hand, on the improvement plan of the class, valuing people, empowering the moments when students help each other and want the best for each other”. Therefore, the educational task is not only cognitive, but must believe in the relational part to build learning together.

Headmistress Laura Martín argues that Expanded Reasoning is essential in the field of education because education is only possible when all the dimensions of man are taken into account in order to understand who he is and to want the best for him: “For life to have meaning, we must provide moments in which to put ourselves into play and allow students to ask themselves questions that have to do with their lives”.

Therefore, in the field of education there is a very important part that is cognitive, more academic, but the volitional and affective parts are also essential. If education is committed to the integral development of the person, it cannot forget the relational aspect of the human being.

“Learning cannot be unrelated to what happens to students in their lives, so teachers must help them to find the meaning of what they are studying, to walk together in community and for global learning to take place”

This is the challenge of any educator who serves a community, it involves looking at each person before entering the classroom, asking what they want for them, and therein lies the good of the profession. It is about understanding how people live and what they feel, what each person can contribute, what their relationships are for. In short, concludes Laura Martín, learning only makes sense if it is in relation to life, if it contributes to asking questions, if it helps people to walk and wants something good for others.


Guillermo García, musical director: “The score is a tip of an iceberg that I go over in reverse to ask myself what the composer felt”


"I find it hard to understand that not everyone is dedicated to classical music"

Classical music has endured through the centuries because of its role as a bridge between generations. It was Chesterton who wrote that tradition is the democracy of the dead, and this is how this musical genre penetrates the horizon of human knowledge up to the present university.

The Director of Teatro de La Zarzuela, Guillermo García Calvo, feels privileged to be able to look at the works of history’s great musicians, and continues to be surprised that the planet is not devoted to classical music. He jokes that this fantastic activity is a secret so that there are not too many of them.

Interview conducted by the Instituto Razón Abierta, in collaboration with the production company Logosfera of the Mirada 21 group

Vocation as a leader

Guillermo’s story begins at the age of 7 in front of a piano. Since then he has conducted orchestras in such important places as London, Berlin, Florence and in Spain in several cities. He has reached this level of his professional career with the Opera XXI Award for best musical direction and with a humanistic education that comes from the pure pleasure of studying. His parents enrolled him in a small music studio in Madrid and without any pretensions or objectives, just for mere enjoyment and curiosity, he became who he is today. He has always been interested in everything related to humanism and letters, at home he read a lot and loved going to Mass for what was spectacular about it, he feels that perhaps this enjoyment has a hedonistic touch, but that is how he got to conducting, not for the power or recognition, but for the operatic repertoire that he did not have in any other instrument.

“My rise in music was very natural and unforced, I was not aware and still am not aware of the power that comes with it”.

On his journey he has been accompanied by important teachers with whom he has learned to think. The most decisive was his teacher Almudena Cano, now deceased, who encouraged him to leave Spain and study in Vienna. He considers her to have been a “visionary” who believed in his talent and encouraged him to leave the piano as a concert instrument, opening up new horizons for him abroad. He regrets that he has not been able to see the fruits of her teaching. He has lived in Vienna since 1997, his wife is Austrian and his two children are Viennese, so he combines the two cultures and the two languages.

Expanded reason orchestra

The university mission of Razón Abierta in its quest for the unity of knowledge leads him to speak of the integration of the orchestra as a whole. He sees the orchestra as a reflection of society and the human need to form a community. The soloist is the exception. And as a conductor, he seeks to coordinate the group as if he could push a button and create a harmony. Even when doing opera, zarzuela or ballet, where the stage and technical equipment come into play, the art is even more total.  He connects with childhood and enjoys being in the front row, expressing that “to be a director is also to be a spectator”.

He confesses that he is still amazed every day when he listens to the orchestra. In fact, he has been working for a month on a very complex production, The Magic Opal, and although he lives the moment beforehand with a lot of nerves, wondering why he is there or why he has to do that, when it starts to work, he lives it as a magical moment. Every day he renews his passion, every time he conducts the orchestra, and he considers it a great good fortune because every production is different.

“If I didn’t live music with such passion, in such an enriching way, I wouldn’t be a conductor any more.

Experience of beauty

For Guillermo García, the philosopher López Quintás, who connects classical music with the roots of man, is an inspiration. “In music, achieving beauty is something that has no end”, working on sound, tuning, homogeneity, musical phrase, emotional expression… are challenges, and there is no other activity in the world that requires so much sacrifice, but at the same time allows us to optimise so much, because there will never be a definitive version: “We will never reach perfection, that’s the beauty of art, to be able to try”.

The relationship with beauty is his daily motivation, because deep down he is always searching for it: not only as a question of balance sheets, but also from a moving perspective, to reach the public with a beauty without words, from the sincerity of emotions. It is about connecting with the emotion that the composer felt when writing that music and being able to transmit it to the audience with sound.

As part of the university’s educational project, which consists of awakening to questions, discovering the truth and deciding what changes to make in life, the conductor enjoys, above all, the moment in which there are no more words and he only connects with body language and the gaze.

“At the concert I stop being myself and enter a meditative state, I merge with the musical moment and I am receptive to opening the door to another dimension.

His life is not without a certain complexity, having a family in another country and working in two other countries apart from Spain: “The moment of making music is something therapeutic, a balm for me, I feel happier and more optimistic afterwards”.

Music opens up questions

As an orchestra teacher, he is pedagogical and didactic, he likes to capture the group’s state of concentration and is concrete and punctual in the directives he gives them. He believes that it is important to hit the right key to get everyone involved, and to this end he uses a number of metaphors. For example, Strauss’ Salome always sounds very loud, but he wanted to make the group see that in the original libretto she is a young teenager and he managed to make the orchestra sound lighter and lighter, getting emotionally involved: “I find the way to seduce the orchestra if I ask myself the right questions beforehand”.

Precisely, he reveals that the questions come with the study of an abstract score that has no literary text behind it. Then he sits down at the piano and asks himself what the composer wants: “The score is a tip of the composer’s emotional iceberg, I go backwards to find out what he felt and what it means, translate it and then explain it to the orchestra”.


Verónica Fernández, professor at UFV: “We must overcome the conflict between science and faith, a conflict that only fragments the person”.

The seminar Dialogue between Faith and Science in Education, now in its second year, is getting off to a strong start this year with a very clear purpose: to renew teachers’ holistic view of education. Verónica Fernández, one of the promoters of the seminar together with Jesús Alcalá, notes that, at present, on one hand, we explain science, which has something great to tell us, and, and on the other hand, religion, as if it contradicted or inhibited what science has to say. Thus, in the education of a person, a fragmentation is generated, and this can be seen in his own university classes where he finds students talking about the creation of Adam and Eve, on the one hand, and Darwin’s theory of evolution, on the other.

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The seminar seeks dialogue between faith and science, but not only, it also aims to incorporate this reflection into the subjects of science and religion of ESO and Bachillerato, as well as to establish a network of teachers and centers that can share the results. To this end, working tables, conferences, dynamics, workshops and various forms of interaction will be organized to consolidate the fruits of the meeting, which can be followed online from January once a month and from June onwards in person.

In the binomial faith and science, the idea arises as to whether one of these disciplines needs the other more. For example, the philosopher of political theory Frederick Wilhelmsen said that science without metaphysics is incapable of good, or the German Hannah Arendt in her “Human Condition” warned of the dangers of a man dominated by “know how” who makes many advances with his technology, but thinks worse and worse.

Verónica Fernández tackles the question by assuring that there is no confrontation between the two, but rather we must not lose sight of who the person is, who has a transcendent part, but also possesses an intelligence and a capacity to access this search for truth: “One is not more than the other, there is no struggle, we must see how the two are integrated and one illuminates the other”. And he adds: “Science makes you see how capable the person is of advancing in knowledge and faith has much to contribute to all this, since this advance is not only to show that the human being can do everything, but that there are limits, why so much technology, is technology at the service of the person or the person at the service of technology? The seminar wants to show that there is no science-faith conflict, but that there comes a time when reason is limited and it becomes necessary to accept what faith adds”.

What would be the diagnosis of the current state of this situation? Veronica assures that there is no relationship, that it is totally fragmented, science goes its own way and religion also takes a step back.

Again, she recalls when her students tell her that at home they are forced to believe, but they wonder if they come from the monkey: “There is no unity of thought, today’s young people are disintegrated and it is necessary to introduce them to a reality that is not only tangible, in harmony with the tangible”.

It is also due to a problem of ignorance: “It is necessary to spread what is true, what is there and verifiable. The men who preceded us had a God without a world, but those of today have a world without God”. In the words of UFV professor Juan Jesús Álvarez, the truth is symphonic and it is necessary to look for all its faces to complete it.


Jorge Lopez UNAV genero

“The bioethical implications of gender transition treatments for minors”

Jorge López, UNAV professor: “We are not aware of the seriousness of administering puberty blockers to minors to change sex”

Last November 25, the conference entitled “The bioethical implications of treatments for gender transition”, organized by the Institute of Bioethics of the University Francisco de Vitoria, was held in the auditorium of the University Francisco de Vitoria. The event had the privilege of having Jorge López Guzmán as speaker. Dr. Lopez is coordinator of the area of pharmaceutical humanities at the University of Navarra.


Jorge Lopez UNAV genero RA

In the search for the truth that hovers over the university spirit, it seems appropriate to delve into the evolution of the concept of the child in history, since the way in which childhood is defined has certain moral consequences, especially in the light of the so-called gender transition.

José López Guzmán and Sagrario Crespo, professor of bioethics at the University Francisco de Vitoria, are immersed in a research project on pharmaceutical treatments for these minors with the aim of providing adequate information in the health field so that it is known that they are experimental and, therefore, from which risks are derived, and that a holistic vision of the human being in a process such as this can be generalized.

What does it mean to be a pubescent?

Adolescence is that period of transition to adulthood in which important physical and emotional changes take place, ending around the second decade of life. According to the WHO, it is between the ages of 10 and 19. This onset of puberty involves the interaction of several factors, whether genetic or environmental, as well as various hormonal changes.

Adolescents are not a homogeneous group, nor does their maturational development follow continuous or uniform rhythms, but they do share a series of common characteristics such as the importance of their relationship with their peers, their body image or the development of their identity. It is a long journey in which it is necessary to accompany them from the multidisciplinary perspective of knowledge, since the decisions taken at this age can make them more vulnerable, for example, with respect to the beginning of the so-called gender transition.

In this sense, the speakers warned of the seriousness of resorting to puberty blockers to suppress hormonal expression and their sexual characteristics, since, from a bioethical perspective, existing treatments can prevent a satisfactory life project in the medium and long term.

What happens when a minor has a question of identity?

There are two options when a minor expresses an identity doubt. On the one hand, there is what is called “watchful waiting”, i.e. not intervening directly, but watching the development without coercing the person, so that he/she can find him/herself over a period of searching for affectivity, social niche, etc. And, on the other hand, a pharmacological intervention, which resorts to the direct suppression of sexual hormones and the execution of a halt in their maturational progress.

José López revealed that “there is currently a tendency to opt for the second option, but it is not something neutral as people try to make it seem, since if we give puberty blockers to a minor we are conditioning the subject to take other types of hormones later on“. And he adds: “If the objective is to seek the best for the child, the interesting thing would be to act prudently when choosing the alternatives, the principle should be that of precaution, to choose the measure that has the least repercussions”. For this, the requirement is to make a safe diagnosis and the truth is that there is no certainty that someone is transsexual when he or she is a puberty.

Diagnostic protocols: the origin of doubt

In the case of minors, the user’s own assessment is difficult to validate, since it is necessary to rule out vital circumstances that may confuse him/her with his/her sexuality, for example, a fantasy of falling in love or a search for self-acceptance. In fact, most international protocols seek to eliminate this perception because it “pathologizes transsexualism”, as José López explained: “If we want to protect the minor, we need a second diagnosis, to rule out other factors before medicating, to know what led him to make this decision”.

There are many empirical studies that show that when there is no intervention, up to 90% of cases stop being transsexual after puberty, which indicates that a holistic understanding of the whole process is necessary: “We cannot put minors in a funnel of treatments that are not appropriate for their age”, he affirmed.

A case study

Keira Bell’s case was much talked about because of the mistake involved in hormone administration and its repercussions. When Keira identified as male she was referred to a clinic that administered puberty blockers and then the rest of the cross-sex hormones. However, disillusioned by her differences with a male, in her 20s she was confused to enter the operating room and sought to re-identify as a woman. She claimed to be a “bearded, isolated, testosterone-slave girl for life.”

At trial it was shown that her consent at the clinic had been invalid because of her lack of capacity to understand at that age and that she had been given biased information that prevented her from knowing what she was facing in the years to come. The scientific evidence, then, argues that the preadolescent brain does not perceive risk as such, nor is it aware of the consequences of such a decision in the long term, even less so in a stressful situation.

Benefits or risks?

If we take into account the side effects of high medicalization, the physical consequences are obvious: reduction in height, mood changes, depressive symptoms, growth problems, changes in bone mineral density, premenopausal signs, fertility problems, etc. Jorge López uses this to think that “it is misleading to speak of the absence of intervention in a pharmacological treatment if the height of the child is already being changed by the drugs”.

Regarding the possibility of reversibility, there is much uncertainty on the issue. There are even countries in the region that have withdrawn these treatments for minors due to the lack of clarity of the long-term effects.

Finally, it should be borne in mind that they are off-label drugs, i.e. not approved for that effect, they are drugs that are not approved for the purpose for which they are administered and without adequate follow-up. Jorge López confesses that this is so because “governments are not interested in investing financially in carrying out studies to verify hormone blockers and that unexpected results are obtained”. In view of this paradox, he warns that they are not innocuous, given the long term in which their doses are administered and for a contraindicated purpose.


-Human dignity refers to the need to protect the most vulnerable people, especially minors.

-The desire to alleviate suffering is laudable, but in the face of irreversibility, caution is necessary. It should not be forgotten that the treatment is experimental and should entail greater rigor.

-There should be an overview of the pharmacological consequences of treatments. More research is needed, as much of the literature is biased and there is no consistency.

As identity awareness increases, the quality of benefits and interventions decreases, which leads to prioritizing non-invasive therapies to alleviate the distress of this group and opting for watchful waiting as the most appropriate option.

Questions: Is there an idealization of the other sex?

  1. French and American psychiatrists suggest that the therapy of minors with gender conflict should begin by contemplating the origin of this conflict and not by providing pharmacological treatments. They all agree that there is a beginning that is articulated around different problems, whether it is the abuse of the father, a school mockery for not having breasts, a very marked canon of beauty in social networks or the so-called personality by contagion in friends who join in making the same change… In general, they are people who do not like and do not accept each other. As in anorexia, it would not be fixed by doing liposuction and going on a diet, but by manifesting the distortion.
  2. Biologically, there is talk of an enzyme that produces hormonal changes in fetal development, but it is still not determinant. It is only a predisposition, but it does not necessarily have to develop. In fact, Professor Natalia López Moratalla has studied that, although there are different neuronal circuits in transsexual people, they are not crucial given the plasticity of the brain after thinking that one wants to be transsexual. In other words, there are no transsexual genes or transsexual brains. And this is why puberty blockers are risky and unwise, to administer them would be to pathologize a child. Ideology and economic pressures must be set aside in order to begin to carry out studies with statistical power and rigorous pharmacological clinical trials, so as not to be detrimental to the safety of transsexual persons.
  3. Today it is frowned upon to say that a child on this medication has hot flashes, has not grown or loses its immunity. But it is barbaric to start with the treatment, since there are many regrets after a mastectomy, for example, and they are sick for life, physiologically and psychologically, who suffer a lot because of the uncertainty of knowing how they are going to be after a surgical operation. Not only do they suffer from physical pain, but they are not happy because they are promised a happiness they cannot achieve. A recent study by the University of Pennsylvania reveals that the suicide rate in transsexual people is 40% higher than in the general population after starting treatment, precisely because of the idealization of the other sex, which generates an enormous tension for not becoming what they are looking for. Real information is needed, in addition to attending to other collateral damage to family members who need psychological support or to mitigate the anxiety that would be generated by a possible lack of drugs due to supply failure, which could imply a setback.
  4. In summary, and after 20 years of experience as a researcher in the field of transsexuals, José López clarifies that they are not sexualized people, but that they have a problem of non-identification with their body and are excessively self-centered, in addition to suffering from the feeling of not being understood by society: “Today operations are aesthetic, not functional, and there is much concern about continually undergoing interventions so that in time they can become what they want to be, if that were possible,” he concludes.


Alicia Hernando, researcher at ICS of the University of Navarra: “Medicine must take into account all the dimensions of the human being, not only the physical”.


The philologist and professor at the University of Navarra, Alicia Hernando, has published an interesting article on the importance of palliative care in a society in need of answers in the last stage of life. And she does so by the hand of great authors such as Tolkien, Lewis, Golding or Frankl with whom she goes through their main plot lines in parallel to the human narrative itself that searches, suffers and wonders.

It is precisely on this review that she is currently deepening her research for her doctoral thesis:

The medical specialty, explains Alicia Hernando, should not only be reduced to a treatment, but, thanks to a whole interdisciplinary team involving doctors, nurses and other staff, has to put in place a more lasting accompaniment, extensive to the families, since with the patient also suffer their loved ones and need other health specialties such as psychological.

In this sense, the British nurse Cicely Saunders is a fundamental pillar on which to rely, given the valuable learning derived from her work in that hospice for terminally ill patients whom she accompanied until their natural death: “Cicely tells us that it is necessary to take care to cover a suffering that is total, not just physical pain, but spiritual and existential. The medicine that proposes palliative care alleviates other aspects and that is where these important values come into play”. He goes on to comment that “sometimes this implies a deep psychological accompaniment, other times it is just being there, keeping silent and letting the patient open up to resolve the conflicts that go behind and make him suffer in another way. We think of ALS or terminal cancer, but there are other aspects to cure, the person also suffers because he feels a burden, or because economically he has to face a series of situations, or he believes that there are conflicts that he has not been able to resolve previously…, that is to say, the end of life is not only medical suffering, but a whole set”.

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Lecture by David Clark on “Cicely Saunders: Her Life, Her Work, and Her Legacy”

Alicia Hernando argues that the integral vision of man in all his dimensions raises the question of whether the palliative-euthanasia binomial is real: “The debate has become polarized and it is essential to break it down; they play with semantics, with euphemisms: is it a law that helps people to die, is there a real provision of aid? These are terms that permeate society with a purpose that is absorbed in a concrete way, although I would not go into this debate so much as into how to make palliative care better known, which in itself is very good.

The intention in any case is to alleviate suffering until the last moment. The euthanasia law justifies death by arguing that a point is reached at which no more can be done and that in that critical situation it is justifiable to die, but Alicia Hernando insists that this is misunderstood: “At that critical point the treatment ends, but not the cure, you can relieve pain in different ways, and palliative care seeks to heal in the deep sense of the term, not only physically, but in an existential and spiritual perspective, which is what society has not yet come to discover, in fact, I do not know anyone who knows what palliative care is and does not see it as something very good,” she confesses.

He gives the example of a doctor who treated a woman with refractory suffering who asked him for euthanasia, but they entered into a dialogue of understanding in which he understood that she was exhausted and could no longer cope, and in response he made a proposal: “well, we have already talked about what we have not, now let’s talk about what we have, what palliative care can do for you”, to which the patient replied: “I’ll give you two days”. In the end, the woman took on a very good palliative sedation experience that had a great echo in the family. In short, she considers that if palliative care were truly known there would be no way of saying no to it: “Of course there are limits, but we have to make it known what it is and distinguish it from what we get through the media; people do not know what it entails because of a manipulation of language”.

In this line of commitment to the dialogue between science and man, Alicia Hernando finds many reasonable arguments for broadening the academic horizon from the Medical Schools themselves: “In every curriculum it is necessary to delve into the subject of palliative medicine, it is essential that the students’ reflections touch on the question of being, that the medical intention to cure in all aspects is propagated, we must continue to fight so that advanced medicine can reach all universities”.

Faced with the paradox that in one operating room a life is being saved and in the opposite operating room another life may be being taken away, we are presented with a complex panorama: “Our Portuguese neighbors have already passed the euthanasia law and in other countries they are looking at the possibility of opening up these realities beyond refractory suffering, at this point training is key and it is necessary to form a team, to draw on the experience of all, because in a team the decisions are different,” he concludes.


In this line of commitment to dialogue between science and mankind, Alicia Hernando finds many reasonable arguments for broadening the academic horizon from the medical faculties themselves: “In all curricula it is necessary to deepen the subject of palliative medicine, it is essential that students’ reflections touch on the question of being, that the medical intention to heal in all aspects is spread, we must continue to insist that advanced medicine can reach all universities”.

Faced with the paradox that in one operating theatre a life is being saved while in another room another life may be being taken away, we are presented with a complex panorama: “Our Portuguese neighbours have already approved the law on euthanasia and in other countries they are looking at the possibility of opening up these realities beyond refractory suffering. Faced with this panorama, training in palliative care becomes even more relevant, if possible, and the different disciplines contribute to caring for the person in their human complexity,” he concludes.