The Seat of The Soul

Our mortal destiny is out there; out among the distant stars. We will travel there and thrive there. I can know this  because I know something about the biology of man. And thus we will need to talk about the soul, about spiritual things. About health.

The phrase ‘seat of the soul’ is historically most ascribed to Rene Descartes. His most developed idea of this ‘seat’ was in his work “The Passions of the Soul.” This was a serious work of neuropsychology. Remember this was circa the middle of the seventeenth century. The notion that the soul had a material home within the body is ancient; hundreds or thousands of years B.C such a notion could be found in many cultures. Continue reading

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Become A Physician Become A Liberal, Become A Healer Become A Conservative

That is, at least for some, a provocative title for a medical post.

Avoid, no matter how tempting, broadening my remarks to a general theory of politics.

As young medical students, even if we sat in the back and sometime read the newspaper, we still showed fealty to the lecturers; to our mentors. It was obvious that they knew more than we did about physiology, anatomy, endocrinology; biochemistry not so much as that was a ‘hard science’ of clear rules and little room for interpretation. Continue reading

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Free Speech, The Flexner Report and Why Your Doctor Cannot Tell You The Truth

An anecdote:

When I had the large clinic, Tempus, one of my managers came up with the idea of doing radio advertising. OK, why not? He had a clever name for the campaign: “Undo Type Two.”

These were 15 second radio spots so not a great deal of medical information was conveyed beyond Tempus knew how to “undo type two.” Well, not only does the state have the power of life and death over its citizens it has an almost more unnerving power; the power to remove a professional’s license to practice his profession. Well, someone ‘turned me in’ to the medical board for daring to claim to be able to cure diabetes. For reasons more nefarious than I wish were the case we found out that an official at the regional offices of the American Diabetic Association was the source of the complaint.

Things worked out fine but I will admit that while I do not fear free climbing outrageously exposed lines on mountains and cliff faces I do fear the power of the medical board and its bureaucratic capacity to blunder through the lives of doctors trying to do their job. Now this was over 10 years ago and the idea of a physician advertising was a little uncomfortable for me then, still is in some ways, but there was nothing even remotely questionable about the claims Tempus made. Still, one disgruntled individual had the power to threaten my livelihood.  Hold that thought.

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None Of The Above

I am sure you all remember the multiple choice tests where the last option was ‘none of the above.’ Well, I had my own ‘none of the above’ realization on a recent flight to Kauai to give a health talk.

I had an aisle seat, a long book (“Hemingway’s Boat”; worth a read but troubling) and was settled into my reading when a very nice lady to my left asked, “What do you do?” Tone of voice can convey more than my perfunctory answer, I was kind in my answer: “I’m a doc.”

“What kind of doc?” “I’m a drugs last not first kind of doc.” My short answers were because I wanted to read my book, but as she was sweet I kept answering. This discussion went on long enough that it does not reflect well on either of us and on reflection actually shows me in a worse light than her.

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One Medical Student and The Future of All Medicine

For the past two weeks I have had the pleasure of having a 3rd year medical student doing a rotation here in my medical practice. Be clear, do not infer or guess anything else; he was a very bright, motivated, honest and hardworking example of the species.

Having him here was my privilege. I relearned a painful lesson that matters on a global scale.

Medical education as it is currently taught is a terrible failure at providing the kind of education one needs in the current socioeconomic environment. Let me explain.

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