[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
September 5, 1986

Caring and Compassion in Clinical Practice

Author Affiliations

Vanderbilt University Nashville, Tenn

Vanderbilt University Nashville, Tenn

JAMA. 1986;256(9):1202. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03380090142036

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


In this thought-provoking volume, Seymour B. Sarason (psychological researcher, educator, and concerned clinician of more than 40 years' experience) examines salient issues underlying the public's perception that care and compassion are lacking among human services clinicians.

Rather than criticizing the intentions of individual practitioners, Sarason instead probes the social systems that elicit and maintain the view of the compassionless and uncaring behavior of many clinicians. Ultimately, Sarason concludes that the processes whereby clinicians are selected, trained, and professionally socialized may discourage caring and compassionate persons from entering the helping professions and may inhibit the expression of caring and compassion among practitioners.

Beginning with an incisive analysis of Abraham Flexner's 1910 report on medical education in the United States and Canada, Sarason sketches the historical development of exaggerated emphasis on technical expertise and concomitant neglect of interpersonal sensitivity during the selection and training of physicians. His definition of clinician, which includes