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JAMA Revisited
October 13, 2015

A Doctor’s Dilemma

JAMA. 2015;314(14):1524. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.12028

A doctor’s dilemma continues to be one of the characteristic features accompanying the growth and development of medicine. When a clinician evaluates emotion, when a biochemist talks about the Krebs cycle, when a physicist discusses neutrons, there is a reasonable background of controlled experience. When, however, a physician talks about mind and spirit he gets into a traffic snarl, intellectually and emotionally. Why this dilemma? From the early Greek period to the present day it has been a truism that the facts elicited from a careful history-taking constitute solid ground for making a diagnosis. These same facts, moreover, are inevitably bathed in a milieu of mind and spirit. As a consequence, a humane doctor recognizes the phosphorescence of meanings which emanate from the areas where body, mind, and spirit overlap. Indeed, this kind of humaneness may make the difference between an evaluation of an electrocardiogram per se and its evaluation within the framework of a Personality.

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