Danielle Ofri, MD Boston, Beacon Press, 2013 Reviewed by Johanna Shapiro, PhD Pharos 2014
Emotions in medicine are both a neglected and problematic subject. As internist and author Danielle Ofri observes in her new book What Doctors Feel, the model of detached concern is still prevalent in clinical practice and in training. As she writes, “the often unspoken (and sometimes spoken) message in the real-life trenches of medical training is that doctors shouldn’t get too emotionally involved with their patients.” p4 But what does this really mean? Medical education rarely addresses the emotions of learners, although research has documented an intense panoply of positive and negative emotions. Even outstanding physician role models rarely discuss their feelings, leaving medical students to attempt to deduce appropriately professional emotional responses from indirect verbal, nonverbal, and behavioral cues. The medical literature as a whole is surprisingly silent on this topic.