Citing numerous studies that might be surprising to both lay and professional readers, Dr. Rakel makes a compelling case for the efficacy of empathic, compassionate, connective behavior in medical care.  Words, touch, body language, and open-ended questions are some of the ways caregivers communicate compassion, and they have been shown repeatedly to make significant differences in the rate of healing. The first half of the book develops the implications of these claims; the second half offers instruction and insight about how physicians and other caregivers can cultivate practices of compassion that make them better at what they do.  


Even readers who come to this book having read other studies focused on empathy in clinical care or on compassionate practices will find in this thoughtful book new incentives to be more attentive to themselves as well as their patients, and new ways to develop more nuanced approaches to clinical encounters. The many examples the author provides are encouraging.  Without overstating the case, Rakel, who founded the Integrative Medicine Program at the University of Wisconsin, makes meditation, reflection, mindfulness, and deep listening seem like learnable and indispensable dimensions of good medical practice.


W.W. Norton

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