The Power of Hope


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A Doctor`s Perspective

Howard Spiro

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In this book an eminent physician explores how patients and caring doctors can help lessen suffering when illness occurs. Dr. Howard Spiro urges that physicians focus on their patients’ feelings of pain and anxiety as well as on physical symptoms. He also suggests that patients and their doctors be receptive to the emotional relief that may be obtained from nature and from hope.

Drawing on his previous highly praised work on the doctor-patient relationship and the problem of pain, Dr. Spiro tells how people can be helped by a combination of alternative medicine and mainstream medicine—a treatment of mind, body, and spirit that energizes patients, strengthens their expectations, and starts them on the road to feeling better. In various forms of alternative medicine, from meditation to massage, from faith healing to folk medicine, from herbology to homeopathy, practitioners heed patients’ complaints and help them to help themselves. Dr. Spiro encourages physicians to talk and listen to their patients as much as they look and measure, to treat the whole patient and not just the disease, and to integrate a scientific approach to medicine with alternative approaches that may alleviate pain and suffering.

Howard Spiro, M.D., professor of medicine at Yale University School of Medicine and director of the Program for Humanities in Medicine there, established the gastrointestinal section at the Yale School of Medicine in 1955. He is the author of Clinical Gastroenterology, now in its fourth edition, and Doctors, Patients, and Placebos. He is coeditor of Empathy and the Practice of Medicine and Facing Death, both published by Yale University Press, and When Doctors Get Sick.

"This book offers significant insights into the promise that alternative medicine offers to those who are ill. It is an important and timely contribution by one of the world’s foremost gastoenterologists and clinicians."—Joseph Jacobs, M.S.

"An excellent addition to the literature on the mind-body connection and on the power of the mind to relieve pain and suffering."—Publishers Weekly

"All physicians should read this book! . . . His arguments are magnificently developed with a strong tread of logic holding them together, producing what should be an eye-opening exploration of the many issues facing the contemporary medical practitioner in general and the medical educator in particular. For those seeking to be intellectually challenged I encourage you to spend the necessary time to study this text and think about the implications and conclusions that derive from Dr. Spiro’s exploration of these issues."—Joseph A. Lieberman, JAMA

"[This book] has an important theme and challenges the reader with controversial ideas. . . . [Spiro] writes mainly for the lay public, but any doctor could profit from reading his book. Every page offers common sense and the perspective of a wise physician who has thought hard about doctors and patients, not as theoretical entities, but as real people."—Robert S. Schwartz, M.D., The New England Journal of Medicine

"Spiro offers an outstanding exploration of the roles of placebos in caring for patients. . . . [Spiro] thoroughly explores the various roles placebos have played throughout medical history in this detailed coverage of health-care literature in scientific medicine, alternative medicine, and folk medicine throughout the ages. . . . Spiro provides a provocative and exhaustive review of the roles and effects of placebos in health care. All levels of readers."—Choice

ISBN: 9780300076325
Publication Date: November 10, 1998
314 pages, 5 x 8 1/2
The Yale Guide to Careers in Medicine and the Health Professions

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Doctors Afield

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