October 10, 2015 Joanna

Fear Factor

by C. Leslie Thomson

A round dozen years ago, while sorting through a cupboard full of James C. Thomson’s papers, I noticed a postcard pinned up inside the door. I cannot say whether it was intended for anyone else’s eyes, or whether it was put there purely for his own benefit, but it was a powerful, posthumous reminder of a basic point. This was the message:

CONSULTATIONS

Make a routine of asking the patient what he thinks is wrong. The patient’s worry is an important part of his condition. You must either set his fears at rest or temper the truth. Persistent fear can preclude any possibility of cure.