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Everything is relative, especially science

Everything is relative, especially science

When art meets science

Who: Herman Kingma, professor of Clinical Vestibulology

Performance: Je t’aime, Lara Fabian

Target group: medical students

A singer starts to sing a hit song and the whole audience sings along. Not an unfamiliar phenomenon, it happens at every concert. But sometimes things go just that little bit differently. For example during a performance by Belgian singer Lara Fabian (to be seen on the Nue Live DVD from 2002 or on YouTube). She wants to sing Je t’aime, but the audience gets there before her. They sing line after line before a surprised and emotional Fabian. Eventually she goes along with the audience instead of the other way around.

 “You may think that you have everything under control – and we as scientists like to think that this is the case – and that what you are doing is very important, but suddenly things can be different. It happens frequently when you do research,” is what professor of Clinical Vestibulology Herman Kingma is trying to indicate with this fragment. He also feels that a song sung sensitively makes everything relative. “Because it shows how important emotions are. That is what touches you, that is what it is about, in the end. Not spending the whole day fanatically trying to be the best.”

According to Kingma, those who understand that will become better doctors. “Your patients don’t just come to the hospital with a medical problem, but also with an emotional need for help. They are looking for empathy. You should not just look at them with a technical eye – what is the problem – but also listen to them.” Especially people with a balancing/orientation problem benefit from this. “It is not something that is easily cured, but you can make it clear that it is indeed a disease and empathise with them.”

By the way, to empathise with patients suffering from a balancing/orientation problem, it is better not to look at art. “It is an illness that greatly affects daily life, also where experiencing art is concerned. Patients can no longer concentrate on a book, they get dizzy watching moving images and hearing loud noises, so cinema and concert visits are a thing of the past. Even abstract art can be too much, because of the bright contrasts. A lot of pleasure is therefore lost. It is best compared to a disco with stroboscope light. Go and stand there and imagine that the light cannot be switched off anymore; that gives you an idea of what it is like.”

See here the performance of Fabian:

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