We hear a lot about the importance of compassion — and the lack of it — in medicine these days. Compassion comes from Latin words meaning to “suffer with.” If taken literally, compassion in healing seems irrational. Why would a medical professional want to suffer alongside his or her patient? Suffering with one’s patient might cloud one’s professional judgment. When sick, patients need the cool-headed objectivity of their doctor and nurse — not co-suffering or sentimentality. But compassion means more than “suffering with.” It involves entering the mind-space of other persons so completely that one senses what the experience of illness is like for them.
Science educators often skim off the top, as it were. They regale young minds with the marvels of science while remaining silent about the problems to which it has contributed. When I was in grade school as a member of a different younger generation, we had routine drills in which we took cover under our… Read more »
The experience of a larger mind that transcends individual minds is nothing new. People have stumbled onto it with regularity throughout history, including in our era. As writer Craig Hamilton says, “Indeed, rescue crews, sports teams, dance troupes and music ensembles have for years been reporting remarkable experiences of team synergy or group flow that… Read more »
From the very beginning of the scientific tradition in the sixteenth century, not everyone agreed with the notion that the secrets of nature had to be pried loose from a reluctant source. A notable example is the German polymath Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832). Goethe, the author of Faust and many other diverse works, was… Read more »
I learned the most important lesson of my career while sitting on a toilet seat. I was fresh out of medical school, just beginning a year of internship, that infamous rite of passage that involves grueling work, sleep deprivation, and an endless stream of sick and dying patients. One night, in the middle of a… Read more »
You may think there is enough disease in the world already, and that no one would want to add to the diseases that we humans must deal with. But there is a powerful industry in our society that is working overtime to invent illnesses and to convince us we are suffering from them. This effort… Read more »
What’s driving kids toward their fanatical electronic networking? There is increasing evidence that more is involved than smart phones, PCs, and other technological marvels. Hidden factors rooted in our genetic heritage may be at work. “Humans form social networks because the benefits of a connected life outweigh the costs,” says Nicholas Christakis, professor of Sociology… Read more »