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October 1950

THE "FEEL" OF THE PATIENT: Presidential Address

AMA Arch Surg. 1950;61(4):593-598. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1950.01250020599001

IN ALL the history of mankind, no profession has made as much progress and no group of men has contributed as much to human welfare as has the medical profession during this half century. This progress, like most progress, was achieved at a cost, in this case at some sacrifice of the personal relationship between the physician and his patient.

Surgeons of past generations, who were to an extent general practitioners, thought of their patients as persons and cultivated the empathy which is so essential to human understanding. During this period there was no holistic emphasis or discussion of integrative levels. Nevertheless the surgeon had "the feel of the patient" and dealt with him not as another problem but as a feeling person with hopes and ambitions, with disappointments and frustrations, who worked, loved and played.

With the generation preceding the present one came specialization in medicine, and the interests

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