The doctor-patient relationship has long been recognized as a vital aspect of the healing arts. In this relationship the doctor deals with the essentially human dimensions of illness which are manifested in his patient's personal feelings and attitudes about his disease, about the environment in which he plays a sick role, and about the doctor himself. No less important than the patient's attitudes, however, are the feelings, thoughts, and modes of relating to others which the doctor brings to the relationship, for these may significantly facilitate or limit his effectiveness in treating patients.
Doctors often encounter difficulty in treating and relating to patients who make them feel anxious. The problem of defending against patient-induced anxiety is especially acute for the medical student, because his experience and competence are necessarily limited. In the course of learning to handle his anxieties the student may be expected to acquire general attitudes of a
GEERTSMA RH, MacANDREW C, STOLLER RJ. Medical Student Orientations Toward the Emotionally Ill. AMA Arch NeurPsych. 1959;81(3):377–383. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1959.02340150109014
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