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Doctors Have Feelings Too

Mark B. Mengel, MD, MPH
JAMA. 1989;261(3):379-380. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03420030053018.
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To the Editor.—  Dr Zinn's1 article describes the importance of physicians evaluating their own emotional response to patients. This self-analysis would no doubt lead to improvements in their relationships with patients and might even improve their quality of patient care, although this hypothesis has not been empirically demonstrated. Dr Zinn mentioned two ways physicians could engage in such self-analysis: (1) keep a diary of situations that were particularly emotionally charged or where mistakes in diagnosis and treatment were made and (2) share experiences with colleagues through peer consultation. While those approaches are clearly useful, two other recently developed alternatives exist that could also be helpful to physicians interested in self-analysis.In the 1950s, Michael Balint formed a group of general practitioners who met monthly to discuss difficult cases. These meetings were designed so that one practitioner would present a difficult case in some depth using the group of practitioners


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