THE WAY OF THE PHYSICIAN by Jacob Needleman

THE WAY OF THE PHYSICIAN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

With our medical system beset with crises and controversies, philosopher Needleman takes on what he considers the most crucial problem of all: the complete collapse of the human relationship between doctor and patient. The doctor/patient interaction remains for him one of the last non-trivial human connections open to modern man. It is vital because the physician is in a unique position to understand man's emotional and physical woes and serve as healer and guide. Only the individual who is both skilled in the medical sciences and in harmony with himself and the universe is a physician in the truest sense, says Needleman. But nowadays doctors are filled with tension, complacency, or, worst, boredom. Boredom arises because doctors have lost touch with themselves and their patients, pushed aside by tests, equipment, and procedures that comprise modern medicine. Throughout the centuries, he writes, the greatest physicians offered compassionate understanding of the human condition so profound that they communicated a sense of healing energy to patients, helping them get well. Patients knew instinctively when they were in the presence of a physician who possessed this energy, Needleman believes. In fact, his book is constructed as a series of letters to his childhood physician who abundantly possessed this life force and energy. What most patients need today is that kind of doctor--not more expensive and extensive treatments. Having said this, Needleman can offer no precise prescriptions for how medical schools can turn a student into a sage and competent physician in four years. Or how the young physician can acquire these admirable universal insights while he begins his practice. Needleman raises many more questions than he answers--too many. Yet as far as they go his arguments are poetic and persuasive.

Pub Date: June 28th, 1985
Publisher: Harper & Row