“I am the Author and Must Take Full Responsibility”: Abraham Verghese, Physicians as the Storytellers of the Body, and the Renewal of Medicine
(2016) Journal of Medical Humanities, 37 (4), pp. 389-399.
Abraham Verghese proposes to renew medicine by training physicians to read the right texts—literary fiction and patients’ bodies—with skilled attention. Analyzing Verghese’s proposal with reference to Foucault’s idea of the “clinical gaze,” I find that Verghese conceives of patients as texts that only physicians can read, meaning that physicians become the storytellers of the bodies, lives, and deaths of the people they meet as patients. I conclude that Verghese’s project is unsustainable and alternatively propose thinking analogically of physicians as ship captains who maintain therapeutic distance to reopen interpretative spaces for communities outside of medicine. © 2014, Springer Science+Business Media New York.
Abraham Verghese; Literature and medicine; Medical education; Michel Foucault; Physician/patient communication