A friend recommended this book to me a few years ago, and I have flipped through it occasions, but I've never sat down to read these essays.
I'm writing a story, and I wanted to know why people want to be doctors. I wanted an emotional argument, not a rational one. I wanted to know, from an artists/human point of view, why people do it. I've been around explosion pre-doctors and doctors for the last decade, and while some of them are genial, none of them have been particularly profound with respect to their calling, and I've yet to spend too much time in a hospital. Actually, it's not a calling to them as much as their profession. Most of them are doctors because their parents were doctors, or their parents wanted them to be doctors, or they found out that they could be doctors, or they wanted to be the best, so that means being a doctor. In short, none of them have a robust imagination or sense of virtue with respect to the job. It was simple instilled in them that being a doctor is a noble, respected profession and a hefty paycheck.
I'd love to get my hands on a book of medical school application essays. Short of that, I have my library card and a need of an emotional argument. I needed an argument about why a person should spend so much time studying the inner workings of the body, rather than the soul.
Richard Selzer is an artist/surgeon. His fear and awe of the glory and fragility of the inner body is astounding. He talks about surgury as if it were a profane rite, as if he were a voyeur into God's handiwork, "Even now, after so many voyages within, so much exploration, I feel the same sense that one must not gaze into the body, the same irrational fear that it is an evil deed for which punishment awaits. Consider. The sight of our internal organs is denied us. To how many men is it given to look upon their own spleens, their hearts, and live? The hidden geography of the body is a Medusa's head one glimpse of which would render blind the presumptuous eye."
He does looks for the soul in "the animal economy and profligacy," in the matter and workings of the body, and I feel he finds it, and it beckons and terrifies him.
This is turning out to be a thrilling book of essays. Has anyone else read it?
Nope....but I can give you another reference if you want.
Patch Adams. I am not talking about watching the movie, but reading some stuff by him on why he chose the medical profession, and why he tries to work on the human side of medicine.
Also, I think you are giving a lot of the medical profession short shrift. I know a LOT of people who are in themedical profession for emotional reasons, most of whom were touched my a specific doctor in their lives. Either they went through a tough time themselves, or mre often a loved one died/was injured, and a medical worker (doctor, nurse.....or other) made the difference in the level of care to tehir loved ones.
Read up on anything about hospice care as well, The people who do that type of work are amazing, and there is usually a lot of emotional reasons why they chose to to work in that field.
A lot of the responses depend on where you are looking, Irami. Hospice workers in particular aren't doing it for the money, as there are far better paying jobs within their field that don't have the mortality rate or stress of hospice work.
Posts: 15082 | Registered: Jul 2001
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I'll second kwea on this one. I actually bought Patch Adams' book. It was amazing. From reading your post it seems, to me, that you should read Patch's writings. A story of perseverence and compassion not for the science, but for the subject.
Posts: 97 | Registered: Jul 2006
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quote:I stand by the bed where a young woman lies, her face postoperative, her mouth twisted in palsy, clownish. A tiny twig of the facial nerve, the one to the muscles of her mouth, has been severed. She will be thus from now on. The surgeon had followed with religious fervor the curve of her flesh; I promise you that. Nevertheless, to remove the tumor in her cheek, I had cut the little nerve. Her young husband is in the room. He stands on the opposite side of the bed, and together they seem to dwell in the evening lamplight, isolated from me, private. Who are they, I ask myself, he and this wry-mouth I have made, who gaze at and touch each other so generously, greedily? The young woman speaks.
“Will my mouth always be like this?” She asks. “Yes,” I say, “it will. It is because the nerve was cut.” She nods, and is silent. But the young man smiles. “I like it,” he says. “It is kind of cute.” All at once I know who he is. I understand, and I lower my gaze. One is not bold in an encounter with a god. Unmindful, he bends to kiss her crooked mouth, and I so close I can see how he twists his own lips to accommodate to hers, to show her that their kiss still works. I remember that the gods appeared in ancient Greece as mortals, and I hold my breath and let the wonder in.
Selzer's writing is amazing. He is somewhat more puzzling than I'd expected in person, and he did demure and admit to certain artistic embellishments, but they are definitely True Stories.
I enjoyed the dinner I attended with him, especially as he marvelled over the pork chops at the consistent vowel-ishness of our most basic cries: "Ahhhh! Ooooh! Uuuuunh!"
Posts: 132 | Registered: Jun 2006
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quote:he bends to kiss her crooked mouth, and I so close I can see how he twists his own lips to accommodate to hers, to show her that their kiss still works.
That's just about the sweetest thing in the world.
I figured he fibbed a bit when he was talking about the Dali Lama's doctor, and the tumor the size of a fist that went away with holy water, in general, I respect the humility and awe with which he understands his profession. He is a lot of things, but he isn't a sawbones.