A Country Doctor Reads: March 23, 2019

Health Insurer Profits From Your Death, Life Insurer Profits From Your Survival – WSJ

If you get sick and die quickly your health insurance doesn’t have to pay out a lot of money. They lose money by providing you expensive cancer treatment for example. Your life insurance on the other hand wants you to stay alive long as possible so they don’t have to pay out the death benefit. In a thought-provoking article the Wall Street Journal points out that this opens doors to access to expensive treatments for cancer and other serious illnesses.



From Ancient Greece to Yours Truly to NYT: Is Pain a Sensation or an Emotion?

We seem to be catching up with the old Greek philosophers in acknowledging that pain isn’t an objective sensation, but more of a subjective, emotional experience. Here’s a nice piece from The New York Times:


Looks like NYT has been reading my blog; I pointed this out March 9 😎:

Plato and Aristotle didn’t include pain as one of the senses, but described it as an emotion. The word “pain” is derived from Poine or Poena, the Greek goddess of revenge and the Roman spirit of punishment. Her name is also the origin of the word penalty.


.. and I wrote about it in 2013:



Priests, Providers, and Protectors: The Three Faces of the Physician – Psychiatric Times

I have a soft spot for the comparison of physicians and priests (See my 2009 post “Thank You, Father“). And, like many doctors, I’m not crazy about the term “provider”.

Psychiatric Times has a very nice essay on the topic by their Emeritus editor, Ronald W. Pies, MD, where he proposes a role between the extremes of Priest and Provider:


I believe there is a “third way” of viewing the role of the physician—one that neither elevates the physician to the exalted (grandiose?) position of “priest” nor demotes us to the level of mere “providers.” In the role I call the Protector, the physician’s chief obligation is the safeguarding of the patient’s physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

Between the extremes of priest and provider lies the healing heart of the physician.
— Read on www.psychiatrictimes.com/couch-crisis/priests-providers-and-protectors-three-faces-physician

2 Responses to “A Country Doctor Reads: March 23, 2019”

  1. 1 Ronald W. Pies, MD March 24, 2019 at 11:10 am

    Dear Dr. Duvefelt,

    Thank you for your kind mention of my article in Psychiatric Times. Like you,
    I have a “soft spot” for the priestly aspect of medical care, and I must confess (speaking of priests!) that when my patient addressed me as
    “Father”, I felt a pang of affection for her! I read your essay, “Thank you, Father”, and resonated with this passage:

    “It struck me that Father Harris and I had come on similar errands,
    giving our blessing to the care and commitment we see in that house,
    neither one of us delivering much more than reassurance that the
    McCanns are doing their part and whatever happens next is in God’s hands.”

    Indeed, sometimes the most we can, or should, do is to affirm that all that can be done by human hands has been done–but that we will still be there for the patient.

    With warm regards,

    Ronald W. Pies, MD
    Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry

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Osler said “Listen to your patient, he is telling you the diagnosis”. Duvefelt says “Listen to your patient, he is telling you what kind of doctor he needs you to be”.



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