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September 6, 1976

The Healer's Art: A New Approach to the Doctor-Patient Relationship

Author Affiliations

Albany Medical Center Hospital Albany, NY

JAMA. 1976;236(10):1172-1173. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03270110068040

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In The Healer's Art, Eric Cassell emphasizes the need for physicians to recognize man as a dynamic unity of psyche and soma. The role of healer is undermined, and disunity is fostered when disease is viewed as though it enjoyed an independent existence apart from the ill human being. It is fundamental to healing that disease be appreciated in the context of the ill person who feels a certain "disconnectedness, loss of a sense of omnipotence and omniscience and loss of control." Restoration of these losses constitutes progress toward healing. The physician effects or enhances recovery by establishing a human bond with the patient; a bond that is cemented with sensitivity, empathy, and encouragement of patient assertiveness.

Has Dr Cassell introduced any new perceptions or has he resurrected old ones? With the exception of the chapter, "Overcoming the fear of death," he does not suggest any radically new approaches to