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The Arts and Medicine
October 4, 2016

What’s in Your Library?“The Leaven of the Humanities”

Author Affiliations
  • 1Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York
JAMA. 2016;316(13):1340-1341. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.9536

When my classmates and I graduated medical school in 1969, we all received copies of William Osler’s Aequanimitas and Other Essays, which I believe were donated by a pharmaceutical company intent on enhancing our virtue. I didn’t read the book, and in one transition or another I must have discarded it. Later, the fact that I hadn’t actually read Osler’s essays didn’t prevent me from quoting the great clinician’s famous pearls, like “The good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has the disease.” Or “It is much more important to know what sort of a patient has a disease than what sort of a disease a patient has.”