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June 4, 1997

The Paradox of Technology: Learning to Share Control With the Patient-Reply

Author Affiliations

Highland Hospital Rochester, NY

JAMA. 1997;277(21):1681. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540450037028

In Reply.  —Mr Davidson describes the crowding out of human factors by technological concerns. We understand this phenomenon as the predictable result of an underlying clinical philosophy that gives highest priority to achieving and maintaining control. We have proposed an alternative clinical philosophy based instead on relation—a balance between control and receptivity—that keeps the lived experience of the patient in the foreground, and it also ameliorates some problems of overly aggressive treatment and physician satisfaction.1Dr Reyes-Ortiz points to the clinician's capacity for perception, moral reasoning, and relationship as the foundations of empathic communication. We enthusiastically agree. The descriptive model we proposed addresses only 1 aspect of perception: recognizing the presentation of emotion. Support groups to enhance self-awareness, video review of office visits to improve communication skills, and personal spiritual practice are but 3 of the many other types of activities that clinicians might pursue to enhance their capacity for empathy.