“The simple view is that medicine exists to fight death and disease, and that is, of course, its most basic task. Death is the enemy. But the enemy has superior forces. Eventually, it wins. And, in a war that you cannot win, you don’t want a general who fights to the point of total annihilation. You don’t want Custer. You want Robert E. Lee, someone who knew how to fight for territory when he could and how to surrender when he couldn’t, someone who understood that the damage is greatest if all you do is fight to the bitter end.”more info
source: “Letting Go,” The New Yorker, August 2, 2010.
medium: magazine article
“Healing is not a science, but the intuitive art of wooing nature.”more info
source: “The Art of Healing,” in Collected Poems ed. by Edward Mendelson (New York: Random House, 2007), 836.
medium: poetryvia: Speaking of Faith
“If people were to bring their marriages in for a checkup on an annual basis, would that provide the same sort of benefit that a physical health checkup would provide?”more info
source: “Seeking to Pre-empt Marital Strife,” by Tara Parker-Pope, Well Blog, The New York Times, June 28, 2010.
“Each patient carries his own doctor inside him. They come to us not knowing that truth. We are at our best when we give the doctor who resides within each patient a chance to go to work.”more info
source: quoted by Norman Cousins in Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient (New York: W. W. Norton, 2005), paperback ed., 78.
notes: this quote is also referenced in Albert Schweitzer's Lambarene by Jo and Walter Munz (Rockland, ME: Penobscot Press, 2010): “Schweitzer found this process [of a native healing ceremony] as fascinating as I did. Indeed, we both learned to respect it as a kind of healing deeply embedded in African culture. Thus, it came as no surprise when, long after my years in Lambarene, I read about a conversation Schweitzer had with Norman Cousins, an American journalist who was editor of the Saturday Review in the 1960s. Cousins came to visit Dr. Schweitzer in Gabon and said, ‘What a good fortune for the people here to have a Doctor like you, so they do not depend any longer on their traditional healers.’ As the late Italian journalist Tiziano Terzani reports in one of his last books, Schweitzer did not like this remark, and replied, ‘What do you know about these healers?’ Cousins had to concede that he knew very little. Schweitzer continued: ‘Medicine men heal in the same way like we other physicians. The patient does not know it, but his real doctor is in himself. And we have success, when we give to this inner physician the opportunity to do his work.’”via: Jack Fenner
“Always the purpose of treatment is only to restore nature’s balance against disease. There is no recovery unless it comes from the force and fiber of one’s own tissues. The physician’s role is to be the cornerman—stitch up the lacerations, apply the soothing balm, encourage the use of the fighter’s specific abilities, say all the right things—to encourage the flagging strength of the real combatant, the pummeled body. As doctors, we do our best when we remove the obstacles to healing and encourage organs and cells to use their own nature-given power to overcome.”more info