Thursday Review: “Taking Suffering Seriously: A New Role for the Medical Case History”

The first purpose of clinical medicine, Dr. William J. Donnelly quotes, is to relieve human suffering.1 Why, then, does the education and practice of mainstream medicine say almost nothing about patient suffering, other than pain relief?
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Thursday Review: “Restoring the Patient’s Voice: The Therapeutics of Illness Narratives”

The bulk of my work is wrapped up in teaching how stories can be useful in clinical situations. I believe that stories and storytelling make life better and more meaningful. I tend, though, to downplay narrative work that can’t explicitly help doctors, nurses, and administrators serve patients more effectively. I suppose that comes from a need to show healthcare professionals the value of medical humanities.

The way that Dr. Jurate A. Sakalys writes about the need to simply let patients talk, though, is a good challenge for me. Writing in the Journal of Holistic Nursing, Sakalys brings up several themes which have come up in the context of patient-provider communication. The focus of the article, though, is on why those narratives are healthy for the patient.

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