Between Doctors and Patients: The Changing Balance of Power
In Between Doctors and Patients, Lilian R. Furst brings together the seemingly incompatible worlds of medicine and literature to illustrate the changing balance of power between doctors and patients since the evolution of modern medicine. Linking popular novels with recent works of medical history, she offers an astute portrait of medicine's emergence from a semi-quack profession to one of the most revered in contemporary society. Furst shows how vividly such novels as Eliot's Middlemarch, Lewis's Arrowsmith, and the stories of Conan Doyle reveal the changing role of doctors from once-modest supplicants to powerful healers. Although there are many books on the mechanics of doctor-patient interaction, none has previously confronted the philosophical and psychological issues of power and trust that bind these figures. One consequence of their changed relationship, Furst asserts, has been the decrease of interest in patients as individuals. In this time of impersonal HMOs and spiraling health-care costs, she hopes that doctors and patients can learn from the past and eventually find a mutually beneficial balance of power that will see medicine as both a science and an art and will recognize human understanding as an integral element of healing.
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