why modern medicine can’t work without stories

Polly Morland in The Guardian:

Most of us over the age of 30 can remember the family doctor we had when we were kids. They met us as babies and watched us grow up. They knew our stories, those of our siblings, our parents and often our grandparents, too. These stories were fundamental to the bond of trust between doctors and their patients. We are now learning that this deep, accumulated knowledge was also palpably beneficial in medical terms.

The stories came in fragments, of course. Any GP will tell you this: that alongside the medical history, there are glimpses of the life that accompanies it: a past trauma, a triumph, a family crisis, a morbid fear or a reason to hope. Reducing any patient to their affliction, the tumorous breast or lazy pancreas, is akin to regarding a book as nothing more than paper and ink. This focus on the whole person, while valuable in all medical disciplines, is bread-and-butter work for GPs. Their role as the keeper of patients’ stories is what most of them love about their job, or what they used to.

More here.