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Course: What Really Matters: Living a Moral Life Amidst Uncertainty
by Dr. Arthur Kleinman

CE Credit Hours: 8
Fee: $50

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Arthur Kleinman explores the narratives of individuals as a backdrop for his observations on how adversity affects morality and self-identity. Kleinman offers in this book a groundbreaking approach to ethics; examining personal identity and moral choices in the context of the disturbing issues of our time: war, globalization, poverty, social injustice, sex, and religion.

He defines genuine reality and cultural pretense through the lives of individuals who have found themselves caught in circumstances where those things that matter most to them: status, relationships, personal resources, political and religious commitments, life itself has been challenged by the society around them. Each is caught up in existential moral experiences that define what it means to be human. Their stories reveal how malleable moral life is, and how central danger is to our worlds and our livelihood. The course discusses ethical issues surrounding the 'medicalization' of life tragedies and the role of the therapist as they confront suffering people in a world of uncertainty. Kleinman's view of ethics will provide the clinician a wealth of information to ponder.

Educational Objectives

Upon completion of this course, the clinician will be able to:

  • Understand the implications of living a moral life amidst danger and uncertainty
  • Understand and define 'genuine reality' and its influences on ethics
  • Define the medicalization of life's losses
  • Understand the context of moral experience in ethics
  • Understand the treatment of PTSD and the 'harmony of illusions'
  • Understand the centrality of ethics in forging policies and people helping programs
  • Understand and define the ethical struggles faced in the midst of tyrannical government control
  • Understand deeper ethical issues to therapeutically address chronic pain, illness and disease
  • Understand the interaction of cultural meaning, social experience and subjectivity in shaping moral life

Syllabus / Course Instructions

  • The Course consists of reading the selected book, successfully completing an online posttest and filling out a course evaluation.
  • The book is not included. It must be purchased separately. We have supplied a link to for your convenience.
  • Purchasing your course will give you access to both a printable copy of the test and an online version. Print the test to use as a companion as you read the book and answer the questions.
  • You cannot exit the online test once you begin, so have your answers available.
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Bio: Dr. Arthur Kleinman

Arthur Kleinman is Professor of Medical Anthropology in Social Medicine at Harvard and Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He is the Department Chair of Anthropology.

A.B. 1962, Stanford
M.D. 1967, Stanford
M.A. 1974, Harvard University

He was awarded the Boas Prize (the highest award of the American Anthropological Association) and is a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His books include Illness Narratives: Suffering, Healing, and the Human Condition and Rethinking Psychiatry: From Cultural Category to Personal Experience

Arthur Kleinman has worked for three decades as a medical anthropologist. He has taught several generations of Harvard medical students such subjects as the social roots of disease, the doctor-patient relationship, culture and health care, the moral basis of medical practice, and he co-teaches a new course on medicine and religion. His current research includes: international mental health; cross-cultural studies of depression; the experience of chronic illness; the anthropology of social suffering; and social health policy concerning the overlap of social and health problems including substance abuse, violence and trauma and ethnicity and health. Dr. Kleinman directed the World Mental Health Report and was a member of the Steering Committee of the American Psychiatric Association-National Institute of Mental Health Taskforce on Culture and Psychiatric Diagnosis and Co-Chair of the Committee on Culture, Health and Human Development for the Social Science Research Council. He has authored more than 175 articles and five books, edited or co-edited 17 volumes, and founded the journal Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, which he edited for a decade.

Dr. Kleinman is married to Joan, a scholar on China at Harvard. Their daughter Anne Kleinman holds a Ph.D. (Yale) in Chinese politics; their son Peter Kleinman (PhD, Cornell) is a USDA soil scientist. The Kleinman's have lived in Chinese societies for 6 of the past 30 years, and speak standard Chinese. Each year they travel to China at least once to conduct research and teaching.