Watch this conference keynote session live during the 2014 Center for Mindfulness International Scientific Conference. Includes slides and video of the presenter. Register now to get access to this live streaming keynote session or watch the archived recording on demand anytime after the conference.
Saturday, April 5 - 10:15 am - 12:00 pm EST
The Clinician and the Suffering Patient
Eric Cassell, MD
This lecture is about suffering and its relief. We start with a quick review of characteristics of the special distress that is suffering and are reminded that the basic lesson of suffering is that bodies do not suffer only persons do. Unlike many other aspects of helping the sick, in suffering there is no technology, drug, or instrument; the treatment is the clinician. Why is suffering so frequently not recognized or treated? Why is the suffering patient so often avoided? As much as this lecture is about the sufferer, it is equally about the clinician, the practitioner. Too often students in the healing professions are warned not to get too close to their patients. This advice comes from not understanding the importance of the relationship of clinician and patient - all the more so when the patient is suffering. Yet severe sickness and especially suffering is difficult to be close to; painful and threatening. It seems at first wise to avoid the pain of the sufferer, yet avoidance carries a greater threat. The lecture is specific in teaching how the more open and unconcerned with self-protection the clinician is the less the emotional price of treating suffering and the greater the reward.