Broyard on the Ideal Doctor
Continuing with the topic of what makes an ideal doctor, one should include the writings of Anatole Broyard, the longtime book critic for the N.Y. Times, who wrote about his view of the ideal doctor in his own book "Intoxicated by My Illness"( New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1992.) Broyard was dying of prostate cancer at the time.
Now that I know I have cancer of my prostate, the lymph nodes, and part of my skeleton, what do I want in a doctor? I would say that I want one who is a close reader of illness and a good critic of medicine Also, I would like a doctor who is not only a talented physician, but a bit of a metaphysician, too. Someone who can treat body and soul. There's a physical self who's ill, and there's a metaphysical self who's ill. When you die, your philosophy dies along with you. So I want a metaphysical man to keep me company. To get to my body, my doctor has to get to my character. He has to go through my soul. He doesn't only have to go through my anus. That's the back door to my personality. (p. 40) ...Unfortunately, there are not many physicians who meet Broyard's criteria. Can you think of reasons why not? ..Maurice.
I see no reason or need for my doctor to love me - nor would I expect him to suffer with me. I wouldn't demand a lot of my doctor's time: I just wish he would brood on my situation for perhaps five minutes, that he would give me his whole mind just once, be bonded with me for a brief space, survey my soul as well as my flesh, to get at my illness, for each man is ill in his own way. (p. 44)