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A Piece of My Mind
March 14, 2001

The Condition We Don't Discuss

JAMA. 2001;285(10):1265-1266. doi:10.1001/jama.285.10.1265

Now retired, I often reflect on having been a family physician for more than 40 years. I ask myself what gave me the deepest fulfillment, what was the meaning for my life. It's fun telling my new friends some of my "medical stories." I soon realized I tell stories that always lead to a happy ending. I supposed that's what my friends want to hear.

But do I tell them the stories that have meant the most to me? Probably not. Yet these are the events that gave me the greatest feeling of being a better person, and I believe a better physician, maybe for the very reason they were not easy for me to face. Why are these stories hard to verbalize? Did we do things for reasons we do not fully understand? Is this feeling common to all of us working in the medical fields?

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