Doctors and Their Feelings: A Pharmacology of Medical Caring

Doctors and Their Feelings: A Pharmacology of Medical Caring

Doctors and Their Feelings: A Pharmacology of Medical Caring

Doctors and Their Feelings: A Pharmacology of Medical Caring


Few doctors have undergone formal training in interpersonal skills, and even fewer are aware of the complex factors that influence their own feelings and emotional responses and of the messages they convey to their patients during every professional consultation. This book addresses the needs of family and other physicians to better understand their emotions, enhance their self-awareness, improve their communications skills, and apply these skills more effectively within the constraints of clinical practice and teaching. A multi-disciplinary approach common to the practice of family medicine is used.


Effective communication is as essential to a successful medical practice as it is to a successful marriage. While family practice emphasizes the importance of communication and utilizes these skills in diagnosis and management, the concepts expressed in this book are ideals for all physicians. Family practice focuses on the human component of medicine and the therapeutic benefit of an effective doctor-patient relationship. These principles serve as the basis for our discipline regardless of country or culture.

Michael Balint commented that the tool in psychotherapy is the doctor. the doctor's effectiveness is blunted, however, if he or she is in poor emotional or physical condition, just as the surgeon's effectiveness is blunted by a dull knife.

This book focuses on problems that are part of the intense and close relationship between doctor and patient and helps the physician understand the dynamics involved. This concept has been appropriately captured by the term Systemic Family Medicine, which describes the doctor-patient relationship as an interaction between a variety of emotional, relational, and belief systems. These are all components of the patient's family system, the physician's family system, the community, and the nation's larger health care system. the family physician evaluates each patient in the context of these multiple systems and processes.

When caring for a patient, the doctor must remain aware of his or her own personal experiences and beliefs that may influence that care. Therapy should be in concert with the patient's belief systems if it is to be accepted and followed. the physician should also be aware of the personal stresses in his or her life that may affect the doctor-patient relationship and blunt therapeutic effectiveness. These include the physician's physical and emotional state, demands on time by family and colleagues, and religious beliefs.

A unique attribute of family physicians is the ability to be somewhat comfortable with the unknown and willing to monitor the course of a symptom, letting time assist in either making the diagnosis or resolving the problem. the . . .

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