By Joanne Trautmann
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Additional info for Healing Arts in Dialogue: Medicine and Literature (Medical Humanites)
I saw the same thing when I began teaching poorly educated blacks in Mississippi. They hadn't had my experience and hadn't, therefore, been split as I was. I knew students who were as good in calculus as they were in poetry, in economics as in painting. So that's one thing that brings me hereI love to be with people who are in science, and to affirm the unity of science and the arts. The other thing I realize as we talk is that I'm enormously interested in vitality and health, in energy, in the energy that Blake says is eternal delight.
It can be atrophied, like anything that is not used. I don't think it can be developed by reading literature alone, but I think that reading literature can be a contributing factor and a very important one. NANCY ANDREASEN One of the most important factors in developing compassion in medical students is to have good role models. Historically, the old doctors were better educated, read more literature than the new doctors, and were much more compassionate. But of course another variable intervenes here.
Simplistic answers are not, and cannot be, forthcoming. Yet as the dialogue unfolds, the reader perceives more forcefully than a simple exposition might allow how medicine and literature reinforce each other and yet also how they remainand must remaindistinct enterprises. For the medical educator the value of teaching literature pari passu with medicine should emerge clearly from these pages. By virtue of its capacity for evoking emotions, the study of literature can teach empathy with regard to experiencing illness in ways that the clinical lecturer cannot.