March 21, 1964

Thinking and Feeling

JAMA. 1964;187(12):962-963. doi:10.1001/jama.1964.03060250080031

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To the Editor:—  One measure of a physician's competence is his ability to make effective use of language to communicate to others precisely and clearly what he has observed and the conclusions he has drawn. Vagueness and turbidity of thought and expression conceal such competence and knowledge regarding a subject as may exist when the speaker or writer chooses, through ignorance or in mimicry of current fashion, language elements that are soft and indirect rather than forceful and direct.Inappropriate use of the verb feel adulterates and fogs much medical speaking and writing nowdays, and misguided users of this word, especially residents and other trainees who should be sharpening their facility with language whilst perfecting their scientific skills, would profit by avoidance of it. The physician presenting a case in conference or in writing should not say, "we felt that the patient was suffering from so-and-so" but rather "I thought"

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