The Social Medicine Reader, Second Edition

Volume One: Patients, Doctors, and Illness

The Social Medicine Reader, Second Edition

Book Pages: 312 Illustrations: Published: August 2005

Medicine and Health > Medical Humanitites, Sociology

Duke University Press is pleased to announce the second edition of the bestselling Social Medicine Reader. The Reader provides a survey of the challenging issues facing today’s health care providers, patients, and caregivers by bringing together moving narratives of illness, commentaries by physicians, debates about complex medical cases, and conceptually and empirically based writings by scholars in medicine, the social sciences, and the humanities. The first edition of The Social Medicine Reader was a single volume. This significantly revised and expanded second edition is divided into three volumes to facilitate use by different audiences with varying interests.

Praise for the 3-volume second edition of The Social Medicine Reader:
“A superb collection of essays that illuminate the role of medicine in modern society. Students and general readers are not likely to find anything better.”—Arnold S. Relman, Professor Emeritus of Medicine and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School

Praise for the first edition:
“This reviewer strongly recommends The Social Medicine Reader to the attention of medical educators.”—Samuel W. Bloom, JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association

Volume 1:

A woman with what is quite probably a terminal illness must choose between courses of treatment based on contradictory diagnoses. A medical student causes acute pain in his patients as he learns to insert a central line. One doctor wonders how to react when a patient asks him to pray with her; another struggles to come to terms with his mistakes. A physician writes in a prominent medical journal about facilitating a dying woman’s wish to end her life on her own terms; letters to the editor reflect passionate responses both in support of and in opposition to his actions. These experiences and many more are vividly rendered in Patients, Doctors, and Illness, which brings together nineteen pieces that appeared in the first edition of The Social Medicine Reader and eighteen pieces new to this edition. This volume examines the roles and training of health care professionals and their relationship with patients, ethics in health care, and end-of-life experiences and decisions. It includes fiction and nonfiction narratives and poetry; definitions and case-based discussions of moral precepts in health care, such as truth telling, informed consent, privacy, and autonomy; and readings that provide legal, ethical, and practical perspectives on many familiar but persistent ethical and social questions raised by illness and care.

Contributors: Yehuda Amichai, Marcia Angell, George J. Annas, Marc D. Basson, Doris Betts, Amy Bloom, Abenaa Brewster, Raymond Carver, Eric J. Cassell, Larry R. Churchill, James Dickey, Gerald Dworkin, James Dwyer, Miles J. Edwards, Charles R. Feldstein, Chris Feudtner, Leonard Fleck, Arthur Frank, Benjamin Freedman, Atul Gawande, Jerome Groopman, Lawrence D. Grouse, David Hilfiker, Nancy M. P. King, Perri Klass, Melvin Konner, Bobbie Ann Mason, Steven H. Miles, Sharon Olds, Katha Pollitt, Timothy E. Quill, David Schenck, Daniel Shapiro, Susan W. Tolle, Alice Stewart Trillin, William Carlos Williams


“Overall, this social medicine reader is clear, concise, and somewhat out of the ordinary because it is unlike other sociology readers that focus primarily on one topic or include only one type of entry (e.g., all empirical studies, all personal accounts, all politically-driven articles, etc.). This includes essays, poems, case studies, and other entries that are sure to appeal to a wide range of people. Incorporating this social medicine reader into any of the aforementioned courses should prove to be advantageous for both professors and students.” — Michelle R. Rainey, Teaching Sociology,

“The academic discipline of social medicine has struggled to find a precise definition for over a century. This struggle is exemplified by the classic social medicine course book, The Social Medicine Reader, edited by faculty from the Department of Social Medicine at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, which offers an expansive view of social medicine's concerns.” — Dorothy Porter, PLoS Med

"These authentic stories of actual events are certain to stimulate students' awareness of the human problems of clinical practice and to prepare them for the future, with its ethical and life-threatening ambiguities. . . . The Social Medicine Reader fulfills its purposes admirably. The selected readings will stimulate critical analysis of the experiences of modern medicine from both professional and patient perspectives." — Samuel W. Bloom, JAMA

Patients, Doctors, and Illness is a rich collection of classics and good new surprises.” — Kathryn Montgomery, Director of Medical Humanities and Bioethics Program, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine


Availability: In stock
Price: $27.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Nancy M. P. King, Associate Professor of Social Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is the author of Making Sense of Advance Directives.

Ronald P. Strauss is Professor of Dental Ecology and Social Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is author of numerous articles on social and ethical issues in the care of chronic illness.

Larry R. Churchill is Professor of and Chair of the Department of Social Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the author of Self-Interest and Universal Health Care: Why Well-Insured Americans Should Support Coverage for Everyone and Rationing Health Care in America: Perceptions and Principles of Justice.

Sue E. Estroff is Professor of Social Medicine and Adjunct Professor of Anthropology and Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is the author of Making It Crazy: An Ethnography of Psychiatric Clients in an American Community.

Gail E. Henderson, Associate Professor of Social Medicine and Adjunct Professor of Sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is the author of The Chinese Hospital: A Socialist Work Unit.

Jonathan Oberlander is an associate professor of social medicine and an adjunct associate professor of political science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Index to Authors 291

About the Editors 293

Preface to the Second Edition ix

Introduction 1

Part I: The Experience of Illness

The Nature of Suffering and the Goals of Medicine / Eric J. Cassell 7

Lilacs in September / Katha Pollitt 21

Diabetes / James Dickey 22

The Cost of Appearances / Arthur Frank 26

Betting Your Life / Alice Stewart Trillin 32

The Want of Control: Ideas and Ideals in the Management of Diabetes / Chris Feudtner 41

Spence + Lila / Bobbie Ann Mason 60

Silver Water / Amy Bloom 71

The Mother-in-Law / Doris Betts 80

Part II: The Culture of Medicine and the Physician-Patient Relationship

Basic Clinical Skills: The First Encounters / Melvin Konner 89

The Learning Curve / Atul Gawande 102

Case Study: The “Student Doctor and a Wary Patient / Marc D. Basson, Gerald Dworkin, and Eric J. Cassell 121

A Students’ View of a Medical Teaching Exercise / Abenaa Brewster 127

Primum non tacere: An Ethics of Speaking Up / James Dwyer 130

Perspective Shift / Daniel Shapiro 143

Facing Our Mistakes / David Hilfiker 145

God at the Bedside / Jerome Groopman 154

Part III: Health Care Ethics and the Clinician’s Role

Glossary of Basic Ethical Concepts in Health Care and Research / Nancy M. P. King 161

Ethics in Medicine: An Introduction to Moral Tools and Traditions / Larry R. Churchill, Nancy M. P. King, and David Schenck 169

Historical and Contemporary Codes of Ethics: The Hippocratic Oath, Maimonides’ Prayer, the Declaration of Geneva, and the AMA Principles of Medical Ethics
Case Study: Please Don’t Tell! / Leonard Fleck and Marcia Angell 186

Case Study: Please Don't Tell! / Leonard Fleck and Marcia Angell 191

Invasions / Perri Klass 196

The Use of Force / William Carlos Williams 201

The Lie / Lawrence D. Grouse 205

Informed Consent, Cancer, and Truth in Prognosis / George J. Annas 208

Offering Truth: One Ethical Approach to the Uninformed Cancer Patient / Benjamin Freedman 216

What the Doctor Said / Raymond Carver 228

Part IV The End of Life

A Man in His Life / Yehuda Amichai 230

End-of-Life Ethics: Some Common Definitions / Larry R. Churchill and Nancy M. P. King 232

Informed Demand for "Non-Beneficial" Medical Treatment / Steven H. Miles 235

The Case of Helga Wanglie: A New Kind of "Right to Die" Case / Marcia Angell 241

Disconnecting a Ventilator at the Request of a Patient Who Knows He Will Then Die: The Doctor's Anguish / Miles J. Edwards and Susan M. Tolle 246

The Promise / Sharon Olds 254

Death and Dignity: A Case of Individualized Decision Making / Timothy E. Quill 256

Correspondence: Death and Dignity: The Case of Diane 263

Doctor, I Want to Die. Will You Help Me? / Timothy E. Quill 273

The Chain of Safety / Charles R. Feldstein 286

Try to Remember Some Details / Yehuda Amichai 288
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3568-9 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3555-9
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