Reviews Book

Catharsis: On the Art of Medicine

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.332.7555.1458 (Published 15 June 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:1458
  1. Kevin Barraclough, general practitioner (kbarraclough@ehotspot.co.uk)
  1. Painswick, Gloucestershire

    This is a book about the soul of medicine—and about the relationship of medicine to science. When I incoherently fret about what is happening to doctoring, I realise that I am grieving about the loss of something that this book has captured and closely examined. It is medicine not as audited technical expertise but as an art as old as human suffering—and therefore as old as humanity itself.


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    Andrzej Szczeklik

    University of Chicago Press, $20/£13, pp 161 ISBN 0 226 78869 5

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    I know nothing about the author, a Polish physician, but I suspect he was a Renaissance polymath in another life. And whoever translated him into English is clearly the Seamus Heaney of Eastern Europe, because every sentence resonates.

    I don't really know who would read this book, because it is overtly pointless. It drifts around among musical harmonics, leucotrienes, and Nietzsche. Yet if the psalmists had written …

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