Could Poetry Save Doctoring?

Tuesday, December 3, 2019 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
  • Humanities in Medicine Lecture
Francis A. Neelon, MD, Associate Professor Emeritus of Medicine, Duke University School of Medicine
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"Doctoring"-- the therapeutic interaction of health professionals with patients -- has two components:  1) transferring information; 2) establishing a healing relationship. Today, over-reliance on information transfer imperils the fragile balance of these components. Psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist proposes that imbalance results from diminished appreciation of the world-view constructed by the right hemisphere of the brain. Poetry and poetic values (metaphor, ambiguity, multiplicity) enhance right-hemispheric function (broad vigilance, inclusivity, “fuzziness,” adaptability to change), and can restore the balance doctoring requires.

Frank Neelon, MD came to Duke as an intern in Medicine in 1962, and except for three years at the National Institutes of Health, he has remained at or around Duke since.  Now retired from the Divisions of Endocrinology and General Internal Medicine, he remains active at Duke with the Osler Literary Roundtable and the Trent Center.

See recording of Frank Neelon's talk.