– Mark E. Smith

I previously wrote:

[Oliver] Sacks would interview his patients and typewrite 500 words about each of them, their conditions, their lives. (Almost my exact approach when I meet anyone from another nation, tribe, or language group. I just don’t jot anything down.) Now, if only I could put my hands on the article that showed Sacks appearing last onstage at a neurological conference, after everyone else had recited dry “case histories,” and asking the attending doctors “Why aren’t any of you telling us what your patients are like?”

Sacks, in his own On the Move:

  • I would sometimes tell [a medical student] to see a patient with, say, multiple sclerosis – to go to her room and spend a couple of hours with her. Then he had to give me the fullest possible report not only on her neurological problems and ways of living with them but on her personality, her interests, her family, her entire life history….

    [He] was often struck by the fact that I would often recommend original (often 19th-century) accounts. No one else in medical school, [he] said, ever suggested that he read such accounts; they were dismissed, if mentioned at all, as “old stuff,” obsolete, irrelevant[.]

  • Series are needed – all sorts of generalizations are made possible by dealing with populations – but one needs the concrete, the particular, the personal too, and it is impossible to convey the nature and impact of any neurological condition without entering and describing the lives of individual patients.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2018.08.16 15:28. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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