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J Med Humanit. 2016 Dec;37(4):389-399.

"I am the Author and Must Take Full Responsibility": Abraham Verghese, Physicians as the Storytellers of the Body, and the Renewal of Medicine.

Author information

1
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Denver Health, 777 Bannock Street, MC 0490, Denver, CO, 80204-4507, USA. Abraham.Nussbaum@dhha.org.

Abstract

Abraham Verghese proposes to renew medicine by training physicians to read the right texts-literary fiction and patients' bodies-with skilled attention. Analyzing Verghese's proposal with reference to Foucault's idea of the "clinical gaze," I find that Verghese conceives of patients as texts that only physicians can read, meaning that physicians become the storytellers of the bodies, lives, and deaths of the people they meet as patients. I conclude that Verghese's project is unsustainable and alternatively propose thinking analogically of physicians as ship captains who maintain therapeutic distance to reopen interpretative spaces for communities outside of medicine.

KEYWORDS:

Abraham Verghese; Literature and medicine; Medical education; Michel Foucault; Physician/patient communication

PMID:
25301696
DOI:
10.1007/s10912-014-9312-6
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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