Jerome Groopman is the Recanati Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Chief of Experimental Medicine at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and a staff writer at The New Yorker. He is the coauthor, with Pamela Hartzband, of Your Medical Mind: How to Decide What Is Right for You.

IN THE REVIEW

Putting Profits Ahead of Patients

An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back

by Elisabeth Rosenthal

Getting Risk Right: Understanding the Science of Elusive Health Risks

by Geoffrey C. Kabat
At the center of both our flawed current system and its disastrous proposed replacement is a fundamental reality: health care in the United States is enormously costly, often in ways that are baffling not only to patients but to doctors themselves.

Sick But Not Sick

Is It All in Your Head? True Stories of Imaginary Illness

by Suzanne O’Sullivan
Suzanne O’Sullivan is a neurologist specializing in epilepsy who practices in London. Many of her patients suffer from so-called conversion disorders: somatic symptoms caused by psychological distress that defy ready diagnosis by medical tests or physical examination. “They are medical disorders like no others,” O’Sullivan writes. “They obey no rules. They can affect any part of the body…. Almost any symptom we can imagine can become real when we are in distress.”

Cancer: A Time for Skeptics

Robert Pope: Radiation, 1989

The Death of Cancer

by Vincent T. DeVita Jr. and Elizabeth DeVita-Raeburn
The progress over the past forty-five years in combating cancer arose largely from challenging authority and rejecting conventional thinking.

A Doctor’s Body Language

Jack Nicholson in One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, 1975

Adventures in Human Being: A Grand Tour from the Cranium to the Calcaneum

by Gavin Francis
It was the first day of medical school, and I was about to dissect the corpse of a middle-aged woman. Like all the cadavers in the anatomy lab, her head, hands, and feet were covered by gauze. The instructor pointed to an exposed arm and showed me how to cut …

The Victory of Oliver Sacks

Oliver Sacks, New York City, 2000

On the Move: A Life

by Oliver Sacks
Oliver Sacks inspired my efforts as a physician-writer, as he has for so many others. I am, in a sense, one of his students. Now, in settings like my seminar, his work inspires the next generation to think and create. His writing, like the light from a distant star, will continue to illuminate the lives of his readers, long after its source is extinguished.

There’s No Way Out of It!

Peter Paul Rubens: Achilles Dipped into the River Styx, circa 1630–1635

On Immunity: An Inoculation

by Eula Biss

Bad Faith: When Religious Belief Undermines Modern Medicine

by Paul A. Offit, M.D.
My mother and father feared debility and death due to pathogens. They were raised in immigrant New York neighborhoods at a time when diphtheria, typhoid, and tuberculosis were rife. The idea of preventing or curing dreaded infectious diseases “naturally,” relying on the body alone, hardly entered our minds. But two generations later, such ideas have considerable traction in our society.

When Doctors Admit They Went Wrong

Terrence Holt, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 2009

Internal Medicine: A Doctor’s Stories

by Terrence Holt
On a sultry June morning in 1976, wearing a starched white coat and tightly knotted tie, I entered the Massachusetts General Hospital. It was my first day of internship, the moment when I would become a real doctor after four years of medical school. I had been a driven student, …