This collection of vignettes follows the growth and development of one internist as he reflects on some of the critical experiences that shaped him as physician. The common thread of the work is the celebration of the relationship that can, and perhaps should, be built between the physician and his or her patient in the course of caring: this relationship is the sacred space of the title.

The author accomplishes his self-imposed task of describing this space by presenting situations in his practice life that illustrate the concept. The chronological structure of the collection enables the reader to study the maturation of the author as a self-reflective practitioner over the many decades of his professional life. Many of the stories are very funny; others are wrenching; all are gently told.


The era during which Dr. Cleaveland did the majority of his clinical training and practice spans the major transitions into the high technological medical world of today. From this collection, the reader not only gains a glimpse into the secret world of the relationship between patient and doctor, but has a chance to reflect on how the profession of medicine has changed in these 50 years since World War II.

The sense of the end of an era threads through many of these stories--these were things that seemed natural and reasonable early in this period, but are scarcely considered by the frenetically busy and technically distanced physician of the 90's. Dr. Cleaveland seems to be asking us, as we enter yet another era in medicine--that of managed care--to examine once again the human connection and consider the reservation of a sacred space.


American College of Physicians

Place Published




Page Count