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Selections from Love, Medicine and Miracles by Bernie Siegel, Copyright © 1989 by Bernie Siegel. Reprinted with permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.  HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.
 


"It was only later that I became able to look upon the emergencies, and even the breakdowns in hospital procedure, as extra opportunities for helping people."

Bernie Siegel, 
Love, Medicine and Miracles
, Part 1

The idea of the exceptional patient is not taught in medical school. I came to it only after a long period of unhappiness and soul searching in my profession. I didnít have a class on healing and love, how to talk with patients, or the reasons for becoming a doctor. I was not healed during my training, and yet I was expected to heal others.

In the early 1970s, after more than a decade as a practicing surgeon, I was finding my job very painful. It wasnít a typical case of burnout; I could cope with the unending problems, the intensity of the work, and the constant life-or-death decisions. But Iíd been trained to think my whole job was doing things to people in a mechanical way to make them better, to save their lives. This is how a doctorís success is defined. Since people often donít get better and since everyone eventually dies, I felt like a failure over and over again. Intuitively I felt there must be some way I could help the "hopeless" cases by going beyond my role as a mechanic, but it took years of difficult growth before I understood how to do so.

When Iíd started out, Iíd looked forward to facing new problems each day. It was an exciting challenge; it kept practice from becoming dull. After several years, however, the challenges themselves became monotonous. I would have loved an easy day when everything went according to schedule and I had only routine cases. But there were no "normal" days. It was only later that I became able to look upon the emergencies, and even the breakdowns in hospital procedure, as extra opportunities for helping people.

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