The Lost Art of Healing: Practicing Compassion in Medicine

Overview

The real crisis in medicine today is not about economics, insurance, or managed care—it's about the loss of the fundamental human relationship between doctor and patient. In this wise and passionate book, one of our most eminent physicians reacquaints us with a classic notion often overlooked in modern medicine: health care with a human face, in which the time-honored art of healing guides doctors in their approach to patient care and their use of medical technology.

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Overview

The real crisis in medicine today is not about economics, insurance, or managed care—it's about the loss of the fundamental human relationship between doctor and patient. In this wise and passionate book, one of our most eminent physicians reacquaints us with a classic notion often overlooked in modern medicine: health care with a human face, in which the time-honored art of healing guides doctors in their approach to patient care and their use of medical technology.

Drawing on four decades of practice as a cardiologist and a vast knowledge of literature and medical history, Dr. Lown probes the heart and soul of the doctor-patient relationship. Insightful and accessible to all, The Lost Art of Healing describes how true healers use sympathetic listening and touch to hone their diagnostic skills, how language affects the perception of illness, how doctors and patients can cultivate a relationship of trust, and how patients can obtain the most complete and beneficial care through a combination of healing techniques and conventional practices.

As Dr. Lown explains, the art of healing does not mean abandoning the spectacular advances of modern science, but rather incorporating them into a sensitive, humane, enlightened approach to medical care. With its urgent message and poignant, fascinating vignettes, The Lost Art of Healing is a book of vital, universal importance.

"...rpmotes the humanity of medicine along with the science ...a healthy doctor-patient relationship aids in healing as much as modern technology, extensive knowledge, and adroit surgical skill."

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Too many well-trained, well-credentialed doctors fail to take a careful patient history, indulge in rampant overuse of technology and excessively prescribe drugs that result in death or disability, charges Lown, a cardiologist and professor emeritus at Harvard Medical School. In these gracefully written essays, full of interesting vignettes and case studies drawn from his 45 years of practice, he urges doctors to practice attentive listening, to desist from using intimidating language and to pay attention to the emotional stresses in patients' lives. Keeping an open mind toward alternative medicine, Lown describes his partially successful treatment in China with acupuncture for his severe back pain. He also looks at the challenges of caring for the elderly and shares helpful insights on death and dying. His stimulating inquiry is sound medicine for doctors and patients alike. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Despite huge technological advancements, today's medicine is in a state of crisis, claims Lown professor emeritus in cardiology at Harvard and cofounder of Physicians Against Nuclear War. Emphasizing that nothing can replace listening and careful history taking, Lown laments that doctors have now substituted technology for taking time with the patient, shifting their medical focus from healing the patient to curing the disease. In a teaching style reminiscent of Sir William Osler, Lown extracts from his 50 years of medical practice case histories and examples of the clinical wisdom that enable a doctor to comprehend essential medical problems. Despite his Oslerian call to return today's depersonalized medicine to the art of doctoring, he evinces little optimism that his wisdom will be heeded in this age of Medicare and managed care. Recommended for all medical collections.James Swanton, Harlem Hospital Lib., New York
Kirkus Reviews
The engaging memoirs of a distinguished physician who uses human interest stories to get across his message that healing the patient must once again be the focus of medicine.

A cardiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and a co-founder of Physicians Against Nuclear War, Lown has some 45 years of experience in doctor-patient relations. In his view the crisis in health care today isn't about ballooning costs or malpractice suits but about the fact that "medicine has lost its way if not its soul." His central thesis is that the medical profession has been losing its focus on healing, due in part to a romance with high technology. Lown, whose career has encompassed both research and clinical practice, acknowledges wryly that his own cardiological research has facilitated what he most deplores: the advance of technology and with it the depersonalization of medicine. Dr. Samuel A. Levine, Lown's mentor, appears in many of the stories here, for it was he who early on shaped Lown's ideas of what doctoring was all about. Stories featuring Levine demonstrate how the best diagnosticians combine the science of history-taking with the art of listening to the patient, and it is Levine who shows how the words a physician chooses can have a powerful impact on a patient's well-being. Lown, who has passed his 70th birthday, writes with compassion about the challenges of caring for the elderly, and his essay on death and dying should be required reading for all would-be doctors.

Thoughtful essays and thought-provoking stories offering hope that medicine has not yet entirely lost its human face.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345425973
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/28/1999
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 366
  • Sales rank: 520,588
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.24 (h) x 0.73 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Preface
1 The Science of History-Taking and the Art of Listening 3
2 Listening through Touching 23
3 Mind and Heart 29
4 Munchausen's Syndrome 48
5 Words That Maim 61
6 Words That Heal 78
7 Hearts of Darkness, Words of Light 90
8 The Power of Certainty 106
9 Extraordinary Healing Techniques 121
10 Malpractice Corrupts Healing 139
11 Digitalis: The Price of Invention 161
12 A New Medical Tradition 176
13 The Shock That Cures: DC and Cardioversion 188
14 The Coronary Care Unit 202
15 The Ventricular Extrasystole: Heartthrob or Harbinger? 213
16 Caring for the Elderly: Problems and Challenges 227
17 Death and Dying 263
18 A Modern Hasidic Tale 295
19 Getting Doctors to Listen 313
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2000

    Interesting annecdotal experience of a world-renowned cardiologist

    This is a very interesting and respect-worthy book. Dr. Lown has a lifetime of experience with patients and a humanistic point of view.

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    Posted August 30, 2009

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