Dogeared Lit

Medicine and Literature: Two Treatments of the Human Condition | Aeon Essays

Doctor and writer Gavin Francis examines the synergy between literature, with its capacity to develop empathy, and a clinician’s provision of medical treatment or psychotherapy — and vice versa. That is, medical practice may also expand an author’s rendering of the human condition in his or her writing…

“It’s said that literature helps us to explore ways of being human, grants glimpses of lives beyond our own, aids empathy with others, alleviates distress, and widens our circle of awareness. The same could be said of clinical practice in all of its manifestations: nursing to surgery, psychotherapy to physiotherapy. An awareness of literature can aid the practice of medicine, just as clinical experience certainly helps me in the writing of my books. I’ve come to see the two disciplines as having more parallels than differences, and I’d like to argue they share a kind of synergy…” ~ Gavin Francis

READ MORE: Medicine and literature: two treatments of the human condition | Aeon Essays

How has your profession or previous work experience impacted your own writing? Has a particular piece of literature especially contributed to your present understanding of humanity or how the world works?

Having read most of John Steinbeck’s work in high school, it was eye-opening to me when I re-read Grapes of Wrath a few years ago. It was clear to me how the book had broadened my field of empathy and greatly influenced my sense of democracy. I don’t know if I should thank Steinbeck or complain. If I had not read his books, I might have chosen a career in the corporate world — and made more money! Then again, I could have missed the deep satisfaction of doing work I felt was meaningful.


About the author

JoAnn Chateau

JoAnn Chateau likes progressive politics and loves the canines. She sometimes writes fiction about Chester (the Alpha Bichon) and his friends -- with a dash of humor and dab of Poli-Sci. JoAnn's views and insights are tinted by her past profession in Counseling, Christian theological studies, and Library and Information Science training. Retired now, JoAnn enjoys the creative life.


  • JoAnn, Is there any mechanism Americans can use to remove President Trump? He is a very sick man spreading hatred. I hope you’re well. The current situation is make me feel fragile. The United States needs a strong president.

    • Impeachment is a mechanism. Republicans, who control the House and Senate, would need to be on-board for that – it’s possible.

      The FBI is investigating Trump’s Russia connection. If it turns out Trump had any recent Russian “deals”- he is toast. There was a $500B oil deal between Russia-owned oil company Rosneft and Exxon, which was postponed due to Obama’s sanctions on Russia – quite the motivation for Russia to want Trump in office. Rex Tillerson, former Exxon CEO, in now Secretary of State! Possibly related: in December, an untraceable party bought a 19.5% stake in Rosneft. Very interesting read:

      And I believe several legal teams are working on building cases against Trump based on the emoluments clause (in the Constitution), as his continuing personal business interests create conflicts of interest and, therefore, national security risks.

      There is hope.

  • lol. I have said that too… thank them, or blame them! haha. Terry Pratchett is part of my psyche, I began reading his books when I was 12… and thus, my aspiring for subtle wit, desire for satire, and love of sarcastic irony began. ;-)

    Beyond that… there’s a blog, I think you’ve probably already read it, but it says everything else I would say at this point:

      • Yes! Thanks for the follow and the complement! I’m just getting caught up on yours! :-)

        Some days the WP reader just moves too fast! lol. Thanks again!

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