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Education And Debate

Commentary: Freedom of expression should be preserved

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: (Published 23 November 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:1323
  1. Iona Heath, general practitionera,
  2. Bjorn Nilsson, family doctorb
  1. a Kentish Town Health Centre, London NW5 2AJ
  2. b Herrevadsvagen 7, S-73040 Kolback, Sweden

    Any academic journal serves a purpose only if it is read and understood. The more people who read and understand it, the more useful it becomes. Journals such as the BMJ, which have a valued and growing international readership, have a responsibility to be as accessible as possible, but calls for severe restrictions to their vocabulary give us a profound sense of disquiet. The suggestion assumes that medicine is simply a biomechanical science, the sick body a malfunctioning machine, the doctor a mechanic, and the BMJ the technical manual. The task faced by clinical medicine, and by association the BMJ, is immensely more complex.

    The full resources of a rich language

    The challenge is to bridge the gap between the undifferentiated mass of human distress and suffering and the theoretical structures of medicine science, between the illness that the patient experiences …

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