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J Gen Intern Med. 2003 Aug;18(8):670-4.

What is clinical empathy?

Author information

  • 1Division of Health and Medical Sciences, University of California, Berkeley-Berkeley, Calif 94720-1190, USA. jhalpern@socrates.berkeley.edu

Abstract

Patients seek empathy from their physicians. Medical educators increasingly recognize this need. Yet in seeking to make empathy a reliable professional skill, doctors change the meaning of the term. Outside the field of medicine, empathy is a mode of understanding that specifically involves emotional resonance. In contrast, leading physician educators define empathy as a form of detached cognition. In contrast, this article argues that physicians' emotional attunement greatly serves the cognitive goal of understanding patients' emotions. This has important implications for teaching empathy.

PMID:
12911651
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC1494899
Free PMC Article
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