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Modern medicine is one of the most successful branches of science, with a distinguished history of conquering many of the twentieth century's deadliest diseases. Yet today people are turning in record numbers to alternative therapies that have little or no scientific basis. What accounts for this flight from reason in the face of hard evidence that medical doctors do a better job of treating disease and alleviating suffering than their alternative counterparts?
In Magic or Medicine? Dr. Robert Buckman and Karl Sabbagh offer a response to this question by critically evaluating both alternative and conventional medical approaches to patient care. The authors argue that healing has always been partly the science of clinical treatment (medicine) and partly an art (magic). Medicine may make the patient get well, but often it is magic that makes the patient feel well.
With all the pressures under which they work, modern medical doctors often neglect the magic in their dealings with patients. Alternative therapists, however, frequently offer nothing but magic. Buckman and Sabbagh look closely at the claims made for both medical science and alternative treatments and discover a gap between the promises and the reality of each approach.
Magic or Medicine? is vital reading for anyone conerned about the effective delivery of healthcare.
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Robert Buckman, Ph.D., FRCP, is a cancer specialist and assistant professor at the Toronto Bayview Regional Cancer Centre at Sunnybrook Hospital, University of Toronto. He is also the current president of the Humanist Association of Canada. Among his previous books are How to Break Bad News and I Don't Know What to Say: How to Help and Support Someone Who Is Dying.
Karl Sabbagh, M.A., is a television producer whose credits include The Body in Question with Dr. Jonathan Miller. He is also the author of numerous books on scientific and medical topics, including The Living Body: A Guide to How the Body Works.
"Magic or Medicine?" examines the nature of the relationship between patients and the people who treat them. Drawing on some of the earliest written medical sources as well as their own investigations into current alternative therapies, the authors argue that healing has always been partly the science of clinical treatment (the medicine) and partly an art (the magic). Medicine may make the patient get well, but it is often the magic that makes the patient feel well. -- Midwest Book Review
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