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August 21 , 2008

The Way of the Physician: Recovering the Heart of Medicine


In a time when the greatest controversy of medical care seems to be about how best to pay for it, The Way of the Physician brings back fundamental questions of what makes a true healer, what's involved in the uniquely intimate relationship of doctor and patient, and how we all face the inevitable challenges of maintaining health, dealing with illness, and dying.

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Seeking to reconcile the split between our inner child and our adult self, Jacob Needleman follows the ancient spiritual tradition of engaging in a conversation between a guiding wisdom figure and a seeker to address the trauma and to offer an initiation to a younger self, an initiation he feels is missing from our culture. The time-honored…

"A good doctor is a good person." But for several decades, Needleman argues, the physician has been the dispirited pawn of a "medical arms race" in which financial considerations are taking precedence over the welfare of patients. Cut off from great ideas and awakening experiences, doctors are either complacent or riddled with tension. Addressing them directly, the author mourns: "You are dying in your tracks, and you know it."
Medicine for the practitioner and the patient alike, this book says that we need to train doctors to be wise healers working on the heart, not mechanics who fix bodies. Carrying resonances of Robert M. Pirsig's classic standard Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, it points to the physician's quest, now, as our own: to rediscover the moral wonder that will enable us "to do the right thing and do it well."

NEW IN THIS EDITION: An Appendix of "Healing Questions" for medical professionals and health care consumers, designed to engender thoughtful discussions on the true "way of the physician." This digital edition links to a Facebook page for the book.

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