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Article |

Intangibles in Medicine: An Attempt at a Balancing Perspective

Norman Cousins
JAMA. 1988;260(11):1610-1612. doi:10.1001/jama.1988.03410110118040.
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UNDERSTANDABLY, reaction has set in against efforts to emphasize the importance of psychological factors in the treatment of patients. Medical periodicals have carried articles and letters from physicians who feel they are being pushed by imponderables in the wrong direction. The following letter is a composite of reactions:

I am not interested in charming or entertaining my patients or winning popularity contests. I want to give them the benefit of my special knowledge and ability. If I myself were seriously ill, I would have no difficulty in expressing my preference for a physician who is capable of making an absolutely correct diagnosis and who would know exactly what has to be done—rather than choose a physician who is adept at sweet talk, or in making friends and influencing people, or in gaining recognition as one hell of a fine fellow.

This letter and dozens like it are the understandable response


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