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A Piece of My Mind
December 26, 2017

Negative Capability and the Art of Medicine

Author Affiliations
  • 1Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York
JAMA. 2017;318(24):2429-2430. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.19333

On December 21, 1817, John Keats wrote to his brothers George and Tom about a literary discussion he had recently had with the critic Charles Dilke, after which “several things dove-tailed in my mind.”1 Keats continued, “At once it struck me what quality went to form a Man of Achievement, especially in Literature, and which Shakespeare possessed so enormously—I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable searching after fact and reason.”1

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