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Article
July 16, 1921

SUBJECTIVE SIGNS IN DIAGNOSIS

Author Affiliations

WASHINGTON, D. C.

JAMA. 1921;77(3):185-187. doi:10.1001/jama.1921.02630290021006
Abstract

This paper is designed to show that subjective sensations of patients have a validity not inferior to the facts which are denominated objective in contradistinction. It is customary to deride what is called subjective, i. e., what we learn by the revelations of the patient about himself even when elicited by examination. By ignoring these data failure is courted, of which scores of examples could be adduced. The reason of this derision of the subjective is largely a confusion on the part of the examiner between the actual subjective feelings of the patient and a very different phenomenon, viz., the interpretation the patient places on these feelings, which is very often extremely erroneous, as all of us know.

But patients are not the only sinners in this respect, for the history of medicine is crammed with fallacious interpretations of objective signs, such as the appearance of a bacillus, the nature

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