Monday, August 27, 2012


BELIEVE METhe doctor said, “I believe you.” I know he said it, because I heard it. I heard it at least twice. And hearing it made me think how often I hear patients tell me that doctors don’t believe them. It’s one thing to believe a person, and quite another to have the power to fix whatever is wrong. Of this doctor, the patient later said, “That’s a good doctor. I didn’t think he had a solution, but I did think he cared.” I concurred with the patient in thinking that the doctor did not have a solution, and I noted that he could still be thought to be a good doctor without a solution. It is impossible for me to break the habit of being as interested in the process that goes on during the development of a helping relationship as I am in the outcome. I believe that many doctors are falsely accused when patients say, “The doctor didn’t believe me.” I also believe it is difficult to express genuine caring in a language that others understand. Always curious about the conversational anomalies that make or break doctor/patient relationships, I wonder if patients feel more cared about when doctors explicitly say, “I believe you.”

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