Adrienne von Speyr - Arzt und Patient

Arzt und Patient Doctor and Patient

During her lifetime, Adrienne von Speyr had planned to write a book on the ethos of the medical doctor. In 1983, Hans Urs von Balthasar chose from among her scattered notes those that reflected her fundamental intuitions on the topic. Out of these he wove together the present work. As Balthasar writes in his foreword, the texts gathered here “circle around three foci: the initiation of the medical student into the basic attitude befitting a doctor, the doctor’s human relation to his patient, and the question of truth in medicine. These are the questions that would have been at the center of the book the author herself was unable to complete.”

Editor’s Foreword

I. Medical School
1. The Beginnings
Present and Future
Initial Personal Attitude
Encountering the Body
2. Clinical Study
Difficult Atmosphere
The Hospital Hierarchy
Depersonalizing the Patient
The Student

II. Medical Practice
1. Getting Set Up
New Relation to the Patient
2. Dealing with Colleagues
Indirect Relations
The Direct Relation
3. Professional Secrecy
The Law
I-He, I-Thou
4. Fruitful Reading

III. Healthy and Sick
1. The Problem of Health
The Conduct of the Doctor
2. The Problem of Truth
Its Aspects
Pictures from the Doctor’s Office

IV. The Christian Doctor
Influence of the Doctor’s Worldview
Points of Access to the Church
The Doctor and the Priest
A Book by Paul Tournier
A Novel by Gotthelf
The Doctor’s Prayer and Contemplation
The Sick Doctor
The Doctor and Christ

V. Various Remarks

Most of the time a patient comes to the doctor with his own account of his illness. It’s then up to the doctor to work out an objective diagnosis through his, the patient’s, subjective statements. Nor is that the only thing the doctor has to do. The patient has confided to the doctor something about his own life, and the doctor has to receive him as this unique person, who may be looking for a bit more than a quick repair job on an isolated injury. In other words, he may be looking for some sort of healing from a lack of wholeness. It may be the weakness of his constitution as a whole that predisposes him to a certain illness or has driven him to the brink of suicide. Or it may be this lack of energy that prevents him from having a decent life, or perhaps his personal problems that keep him awake at night.

From “I-He, I-Thou”