Essay about Narrative Medicine: Doctor´s Empathy

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Patients have long lamented that their doctors do not truly listen to them. A new emerging discipline, Narrative Medicine, seeks to rectify this problem by teaching both medical students and doctors alike the value of empathy and through the use of literature how to listen, dissect, and reconstruct patient’s narratives. Although Rebecca Elizabeth Garden and Rita Charon, agree on many aspects of Narrative Medicine, Garden tends be more critical and points out more flaws in her work entitled “The Problem of Empathy: Medicine and the Humanities,” whereas Charon cites the numerous benefits of Narrative Medicine in “Narrative Medicine: Honoring the Stories of Illness.” Although Narrative Medicine is beneficial because it allows doctors to …show more content…

Despite this, Garden accounts how “the practice or medicine often neglect empathy in favor of biomedical approaches to disease and injury” (551). Narrative Medicine not only seeks to bridge the divide between doctors and patients, but also the divide within the medical community. Although Charon and Garden both believe that medical students and doctors lose their empathy they both give different possible reasons for this lost. Charon explains how the competitive environment of teaching hospitals, the threat of malpractice litigation, and time and money pressures, all lead to the erosion of doctors’ empathy leaving them to practice a “rigid, suspicious medicine”. Similar stressors erode at the empathy of medical students. Conversely, Garden seems to attribute the lack of empathy due to medical students embodying a false image of themselves. Garden echoes Physician Howar Spiro “that medical students begin their training with a ‘cargo of empathy’ that is then displaced when ‘we teach them to see themselves as experts, to fix what is damaged, and to ‘rule out’ disease in their field’” (552). Garden attributes the lost of empathy to the social-dynamics, and power-struggle that emerges between medical students and their superiors which pans out into their relationships with their patients

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