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Language and the Physician's Art Changes in the Meaning of the Term 'Physician'

Sydney Louis, MD; George Agich, PhD
JAMA. 1979;242(23):2580-2582. doi:10.1001/jama.1979.03300230036024.
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OUR goal is to characterize the alteration in attitudes toward physicians during the last 20 to 30 years as reflected in some of the patterns of language usage regarding "the physician." Much of the world is perceived through the categories of our language, and the realities in that world are bound up in a nexus of words. The words we use to mark off the reality of the physician set up linkages with ideas and images and hence may come to re-create in our belief, thought, and action new realities and a new vocabulary of the physician. These new words and the new reality to which the physician is bound reflect the many social, cultural, and historical changes that have occurred since World War II and have already come to modify behavior and patterns of expectation regarding the physician.

The Physician as Healer  The Random House Dictionary defines "physician" as


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