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September 1967

The Physician: Savant, Saint, or Servant?Commentary on a Paradox

Author Affiliations

Presidential address read before the 24th annual meeting of the Central Surgical Association, Pittsburgh, Feb 24, 1967.

Arch Surg. 1967;95(3):325-331. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1967.01330150001001

STATED in its simplest terms, the subject of my remarks today is the definition of the nature and significance of an image: the image of the physician in his patient's mind. The image, I believe, is the reflection of a subtle and complex relationship between physician and patient that is both ambivalent and inevitable. The image is paradoxical, and the relationship from which it springs has at times been the source of misunderstanding, but both the image and the relationship have been an inseparable part of the essence of medicine. This image and its source would be an intriguing subject to explore merely because of one's curiosity about the affairs of man's mind, but the motivation for probing them goes beyond abstract curiosity since they have lately become parts of problems that are current, concrete, and portentous for the future of medicine.

It is difficult to judge relationship without perspective,

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