Re-Examining the Clinical Gaze Through the Prism of Literature

Johanna Shapiro, Ph.D.

The fact that physicians have the authority to direct a probing, dissecting, and analytic gaze toward their patients is one of the most unique, yet by and large unremarked upon, aspects of the doctor-patient relationship. Using the work of Michel Foucault as a foundation, as well as examples from fictional literature, this article raises the question of how we as clinicians look at our patients, how our patients gaze back, and what can be accomplished or destroyed by these exchanges.

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