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January 24, 1986

The Healer's Art

JAMA. 1986;255(4):547. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370040123038

It is ironic to have been asked to review The Healer's Art, for I had the opportunity to review this book when it first appeared in hardcover form in 1976. My comments follow a detailed second reading after this interval of nine years. Many changes have occurred in the field of medicine since that time, both good and bad. But Dr Cassell's admonition to the physicianhealer applies today as well as it did nine years ago, perhaps in even greater measure in the current time. The author exhorts the physician to retain his role as healer, that is, one who views the patient in a holistic sense without relegating disease an independent existence apart from the human being.

The author stresses the effect of disease on the patient in terms of the feeling of disconnectedness, loss of a sense of omniscience, and loss of control. These interactions are probably well