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June 4, 1997

The Paradox of Technology: Learning to Share Control With the Patient

Author Affiliations

National Institute of Mental Health Bethesda, Md

JAMA. 1997;277(21):1680-1681. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540450036026

To the Editor.  —The "dehumanization" of medical care is an important issue that demands more attention. The explosion of medical technologies and managed care corporations have advanced medicine, but at an expense. The article by Dr Suchman and colleagues1 reminds us that the communication a physician has with his or her patient is an important part of the medical treatment. It is a challenging task to teach somebody how to be an empathic listener. However, if clinicians recall why they chose a career in medicine, they might find that their original motivations were based on human qualities such as empathy and compassion.Oliver Sacks wrote in An Anthropologist on Mars,2 "The study of disease, for the physician, demands the study of identity, the inner worlds that patients under the spur of illness create." In many cases, practicing medicine within the context of the inner world of the patient

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