An inspiring and profoundly enlightening exploration of one doctor's discovery of how hope can change the course of illness Since the time of the ancient Greeks, human beings have believed that hope is essential to life. Now, in this groundbreaking book, Harvard Medical School professor and New Yorker staff writer Jerome Groopman shows us why. The search for hope is most urgent at the patient's bedside. The Anatomy of Hope takes us there, bringing us into the lives of people at pivotal moments when they reach for and find hope--or when it eludes their grasp. Through these intimate portraits, we learn how to distinguish true hope from false, why some people feel they are undeserving of it, and whether we should ever abandon our search. Can hope contribute to recovery by changing physical well-being To answer this hotly debated question, Groopman embarked on an investigative journey to cutting-edge laboratories where researchers are unraveling an authentic biology of hope. There he finds a scientific basis for understanding the role of this vital emotion in the outcome of illness.
In this provocative book, New Yorker staff writer and Harvard Medical School professor Groopman (Second Opinions; The Measure of Our Days) explores the way hope affects one's capacity to cope with serious illness. Drawing on his 30-year career in hematology and oncology, Groopman presents stories based on his patients and his own debilitating back injury. Through these moving if somewhat one-dimensional portraits, he reveals the role of memory, family and faith in hope and how they can influence healing by affecting treatment decisions and resilience. Sharing his own blunders and successes, Groopman underscores the power doctors and other health care providers have to instill or kill hope. He also explains that hope can be fostered without glossing over medical realities: "Hope... does not cast a veil over perception and thought. In this way, it is different from blind optimism: It brings reality into sharp focus." In the final chapters of the book, Groopman examines the existing science behind the mind-body connection by reviewing, for example, remarkable studies on the placebo effect. By the end of the book, Groopman successfully convinces that hope can offer not only solace but strength to those living with medical uncertainty. (Jan.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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January 10, 2005
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Excerpt from The Anatomy of Hope by Jerome Groopman
In July 1975, I entered my fourth and final year of medical school at Columbia University in New York City. I had completed all my required courses except surgery and was eager to engage in its drama.
Surgeons acted boldly and decisively. They achieved cures, opening an intestinal blockage, repairing a torn artery, draining a deep abscess, and made the patient whole again. Their art required extraordinary precision and self-control, a discipline of body and mind that was most evident in the operating room, because even minor mistakes--too much pressure on a scalpel, too little tension on a suture, too deep probing of a tissue--could spell disaster. In the hospital, surgeons were viewed as the emperors of the clinical staff, their every command obeyed. We students were their foot soldiers. I was intoxicated with the idea of being part of their world.
The surgical team I joined was headed by Dr. William Foster. Foster was a tall, imposing man with sharp features like cut timber. His rounds began at dawn, followed by two or three surgeries that lasted until late afternoon. As is typical in a teaching hospital, all of Dr. Foster's patients were assigned to medical students who learned the basics of diagnosis and treatment by following cases. Not long after I began the course, I was designated as the student to help care for Esther Weinberg, a young woman who had a mass in her left breast.
Esther Weinberg was twenty-nine years old, full-bodied, with almond-brown eyes. She was a member of the Orthodox Jewish community in Washington Heights, the neighborhood adjoining Columbia's medical school. When I entered her room, Esther was lying on the bed, reading from a small prayer book. Her head was covered by a blue kerchief in the typical sign of modesty among married Orthodox women, whose hair, as a manifestation of their beauty, is not to be seen by men other than their husbands.
"I'm Jerry Groopman, Dr. Foster's student," I said by way of introduction. I wore the uniform of the medical student, a short, starched white jacket with my name on a badge over the right breast pocket. The badge conspicuously lacked the initials "M.D." Esther quickly took my measure, her eyes lingering over my name badge.
I did not reach out to shake her hand. Men do not touch strictly Orthodox women, even in a casual way.
Esther's eyes returned to my name badge, then to my face. I guessed at what was crossing her mind: whether my not shaking her hand indicated that I was Jewish and knowledgeable of the Orthodox prohibition, or simply an impolite student. "Groopman" was Dutch in origin, not a giveaway. Dr. Foster had described Esther as anxious, and I felt that disclosing our shared heritage would put her at ease.