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October 3, 1966

The Most Distressing Symptom

Author Affiliations

From the Medical College of Alabama, Birmingham.

JAMA. 1966;198(1):52-54. doi:10.1001/jama.1966.03110140102028

During the period, more remote than one likes to admit, when I was a medical student and then a house officer, the name of Frank Billings was heard many times. The young internists of my generation knew of his work and were conscious of his stature. It is fitting that we meet to honor him in the community he honored by his labors and, indeed, by his presence.

The almost incredible advance in the diagnosis and treatment of internal disorders that has occurred within our own life span is to be largely ascribed to the development of objective and precise methods for the study of disease in the living patient. The result has been a strong concern in our hospitals and medical schools with those procedures that "prove a diagnosis" and thus substitute solid facts for those ephemeral opinions that were often no more than informed—or uninformed— guesses. A perhaps