Dr. Cassell examines the social and cultural forces that encourage the practice and teaching of a medicine that is governed by the disease theory. This theory discounts the impact of illness on the patient and ignores the suffering that the patient is experiencing. Cassell does not debunk science and technology, rather he encompasses them within the moral enterprise of medicine as tools for helping patients.

The ability to provide compassionate attention to the patient as individual (i.e., with unique values, life experiences, family interactions, etc.), trustworthiness and self-discipline are required characteristics of a "good physician." Cassell illustrates and personalizes the philosophical shift towards focusing on the sick person with stories and anecdotes.


This work is a classic in the medical humanism literature. It includes and greatly expands on some work previously published as oft-cited articles, notably: Cassell, E. J. , "The nature of suffering and the goals of medicine," in The New England Journal of Medicine,



Oxford Univ. Press

Place Published

New York



Page Count