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May 1975

The Importance of Being Visually Literate: Observations on the Art and Science of Making a Morphological Diagnosis in Dermatology

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Dermatology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Arch Dermatol. 1975;111(5):632-636. doi:10.1001/archderm.1975.01630170090014

Morphology (or living gross pathology) is being neglected in contemporary dermatology. It is high time for a renaissance of the teaching of the art and science of seeing, so that students, residents, and physicians can learn about basic morphological changes in the skin, the raison d'être of the speciality of dermatology.

How do we see? How can what we see be recorded? What do these recordings tell us when applied to morphological diagnosis? Basing my arguments on the studies of Thomas and others, I will discuss the significance of how much a physician actually sees, the effect of certain emotional states and blind spots, the ability to synthesize visually, and the influence of prior knowledge.

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