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The Doctor in Literature: Satisfaction or Resentment?

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: (Published 09 June 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:1394
  1. George Dunea, chairman of nephrology (
  1. Stroger Hospital of Cook County, Chicago, Illinois, United States

Most of us would rather dispense with the services of doctors, dentists, lawyers, and grave diggers and prefer to meet them only in plays, movies, and books. Solomon Posen of Sydney University provides one such opportunity with The Doctor in Literature. In his reading he has roamed widely, from Plato and Pliny to Osler and Proust and even to authors published as late as 2004. He has screened the vast literature at his disposal and found heroes, crooks, and criminals. Many of his selections are culled from the days when full time salaries were few and doctors had to collect their fees directly from their patients. Some of these descriptions should disabuse doctors discontented with present day arrangements of the notion that the past was an unalloyed golden era for the practice of medicine.

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Solomon Posen

Radcliffe, £29.95, pp 304 ISBN 1 85775 609 6

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Throughout the book Posen illustrates the persistence of an irrational dislike of doctors, dating from classical times and based largely on “a deep resentment of powerful experts with their semi-secret knowledge, who promise results but …

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