Tag Archives: compassion

Being our best selves: hidden in full view

James Stoller Peter Rea Alan Kolp Cleveland, Ohio, United States   Figure 1. Pillars and pediment We live in a paradox framed by a tension between age-old wisdom about excellence and our current state. The paradox is this: our behaviors and our priorities are often at odds with age-old truths about how we can be […]

Ahab’s gift: Herman Melville’s Moby Dick and the meaning of pain

Xi Chen Rochester, New York, United States   A whale being speared with harpoons by fishermen in the arctic sea. Engraving by A. M. Fournier after E. Traviès. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) In the summer months before my first year of medical school, I unfurled the pages of Moby Dick. Immersed […]

Burnout: Are we looking at it through the wrong lens?

Elizabeth Cerceo Camden, New Jersey, USA   The Exhausted Ragpicker. Jean François Raffaëlli. 1880. The Art Institute of Chicago. The epidemic of burnout seems to afflict ever more populations as it insidiously creeps into the workplace of everyone from nurses to teachers, from medical students to seasoned clinicians, from Amazon to Apple. As physicians, we […]

Rethinking the impulse to empathize: A sister’s perspective on sympathy and stigma

Jeanne Farnan Pennsylvania, USA   Mary Cassatt, Mother Combing Sara’s Hair, 1901. Private collection. Web Gallery of Impressionism “I am so sorry.”  My youngest sister, Annie, was born during the spring semester of my first year of high school. These four words are etched into my memory, integrally intertwined with the events of that spring. […]

Between Frames: liminality and the emergence of self

Jane Persons Iowa City, Iowa, USA   Human hippocampus, 2X magnification, Luxol fast blue stain. Photo credit: Karra Jones, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Department of Pathology, Iowa City, Iowa, United States The development of compassion, along with wisdom, skill, and communication, is pivotally important to the practice of medicine.1 Perhaps even more importantly, development of […]

Retirement reflections: from code to compassion with Chloe

Gregory W. Rutecki Cleveland, Ohio, USA   Daphnis & Chloe, by Henry Woods, R.A William May and Samuel Shem have described inadequacies of doctor-patient relationships that are characterized as code models.1,2 May observed that these medical codes binding patients and their physicians together shape relationships similar to habits or rules, are aesthetic, and value style over […]

Death and new-doctor eyes

Katrina Genuis Vancouver, Canada   With slim cuts to her wrists, she came into the emergency room and said she wanted to die. “This is clearly a cry for attention,” others said. “Send the new doctor to stitch her up.” I sat by her bed with a 30-gauge lidocaine-filled needle and 4.0 nylon sutures, and […]

Imagine

Daniel Becker  Charlottesville, Virginia, USA   Author and his doctor bag, en route to a home visit Up in the intensive care unit an elderly man with a subdural hematoma is dying. His wife has been at his side all night. They are from out of town and were on vacation when he slipped and […]

Where doctors cannot reach: tales from a British High Street

Suchita Shah Oxford, United Kingdom   Spring High Street, Oxford, England, 2018. Photography: Suchita Shah © 2018 Suchita Shah “I wonder if it’s contagious?” In a tiny shop on a middling-sized street in my city, a handful of women and I were immersed in a springtime ritual of beautification and small talk: haircutting. One woman […]

Cultivating clinical compassion with cultural encounters

Jeffrey Lee Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States   Sunset along the beaches of Sant Antoni de Calonge The calm waves of the Mediterranean played a lullaby as I walked along the beach, the fine-grained sand gently caressing my toes. I noticed a small group of women massaging each other’s backs. I awkwardly watched them from the […]