The Nature of Healing: The Modern Practice of Medicine

ISBN : 9780195369052

Eric J. Cassell
304 Pages
162 x 235 mm
Pub date
Dec 2012
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Currently and for centuries past, sickness has been understood to be primarily the physical result of bodily disease. Yet this definition of illness is out-of-date and untrue to life at a time when chronic illness and the problems of disability and aging are increasingly common. When persons are sick, it pervades their whole being. The Nature of Healing is based on a different definition of sickness, one that recognizes persons as sick when they cannot achieve their goals and purposes because of impairments of function, ranging from the molecular to the spiritual, which they believe to fall under the scope of medicine. Such impairments may result from disease, but certainly not all. As the sick person has increasingly become the focus of medicine, there have been repeated but mostly failed attempts to achieve both technological and humanistic goals in caring for patients. This approach is flawed because there is only one ultimate goal - the well-being of the patient. Whether it involves the personal action of the clinician or the use of technology, everything done toward the goal of well-being is part of the healing enterprise. In this book, Eric Cassell explores what sickness is, what persons are, and how to understand function and its impairments. He explains healing skills and actions, as well as the nature of healing for sick and suffering patients. This book concludes with a discussion of the moral basis of the relationship between patient and healer, as well as the goals of healing.


Chapter 1 Sickness
Chapter 2 The Person, Sick or Well
Chapter 3 Functioning
Chapter 4 What is Healing?
Chapter 5 Listening: The Foundation of the Healing Relationship of Patient and Clinician
Chapter 6 The Evaluation of the Patient
Chapter 7 Knowing the Patient
Chapter 8 The Patient's Reaction to Illness
Chapter 9 The State of Illness
Chapter 10 Healing the Sick Patient
Chapter 11 Healing the Suffering Patient
Chapter 12 Respect for Persons and Autonomy
Chapter 13 Purposes, Goals, and Well-Being

About the author: 

Eric J. Cassell is an attending physician at New York Presbyterian Hospital, as well as Emeritus Professor of Public Health at Weill Cornell Medical College and Adjunct Professor of Medicine at McGill University. He retired from the active practice of internal medicine in 1998, after thirty-seven years. Cassell is the author of The Healer's Art, The Place of the Humanities in Medicine, Changing Values in Medicine, two volumes on doctor-patient communication entitled Talking with Patients, Doctoring: The Nature of Primary Care Medicine, and The Nature of Suffering and the Goals of Medicine, now in its second edition. Cassell is also Fellow of the Hastings Center, Member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, and Master of the American College of Physicians.

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