Recognising a diminution in his emotional response to patients’ deaths, the author analyses in detail his internal reactions in an attempt to understand what he believes is a common phenomenon among doctors. He identifies factors that may erode the connection between patient and physician: an instinct to separate oneself from another’s suffering, professional unease in the case of therapeutic failure, the atrophying effect of perceived hopelessness, insincerities in the establishment of the initial relationship, and an inability to imbue the sedated or unconscious patient with human qualities. He concludes that recognition of these negative influences, without necessarily changing behaviours that are natural, may be a first step towards protecting doctors against what might be an otherwise insidious process of dehumanisation.
Statistics from Altmetric.com
Competing interests: None declared.
If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.