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July 6, 2005

Acting and Clinical Empathy—Reply

Author Affiliations

Letters Section Editor: Robert M. Golub, MD, Senior Editor.

JAMA. 2005;294(1):39-40. doi:10.1001/jama.294.1.39-c

In Reply: Dr Haller’s vivid account of meeting a patient illustrates how acting can be used to proactively change the physician’s mindset, enhance motivation to learn about the patient, and subsequently empathize with him or her. Haller’s training in acting certainly serves him well in his profession.

We believe that Dr Lipsitt has misunderstood the meaning of “acting” and replaced it with a conventional notion of “fake sincerity.” As Haller states, to act is to present “a distilled, heightened reality.” Acting as an art form, when well practiced, moves both the actors and the audience.

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