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Patient Encounters: The Experience of Disease

Am J Dis Child. 1990;144(6):720. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1990.02150300118030.
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This book is terrific. The author is a superb writer who elegantly portrays the experience of a disease in the human context. The four sections include diseases of the soul, metabolic furnaces, diseases of the heart, and diseases of life. The 16 chapters are all true stories. They include disorders that most of us would have high on our list of things we hope never to get, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. The accounts, however, are personalized by the people they involve, including a university professor with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, writer Flannery O'Connor with lupus, the sister of renowned neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield with a brain tumor (whom he operated on himself because he felt she should "have the best neurosurgeon in the world"—no false modesty there). One chapter, "Just Looking," describes in somewhat "x-rated" terms the story of a jeweler with voyeurism.


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