Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Your Medical Mind

Dr. Groopman has already proved himself an exceptional guide to the inner workings of the doctor's mind in his bestselling How Doctors Think. Now he and Hartzband, his wife and colleague at Harvard Medical School, get inside the patient's mind. The result is a chronicle of how ordinary people, landing at a medical crossroads, must decide about care, who should provide it, and for how long. They present tales of patients who must face conflicting information or uncertain outcomes and choose a course of action: a consultant finds his usual "objective” reasoning doesn't apply to the decision to undergo a bone-marrow transplant with possibly debilitating side effects; and a dying woman's change of mind about end-of-life care illustrates how unpredictable our response to death can be. The authors also illustrate the toll illness takes on a patients' loved ones as they strive to make decisions for incapacitated relatives. There are no easy answers here, no prescriptions for the "right” decision, but rather an illuminating look at how different people think about their options and the emotions and experiences that help shape their decisions. This remarkable survey can help make the uncertainty of illness and treatment seem just a bit more manageable and less lonely.

From Publishers Weekly, vol 258, issue 30

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