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The Renewal of Generosity: Illness, Medicine, and How to Live

The Renewal of Generosity: Illness, Medicine, and How to Live. BOTH DOCTORS and patients are demoralized these days, says Arthur Frank, though neither group is aware of what the other is experiencing. Doctors are suffering discouragement and alienation instead of enjoying the hope and human connection that lured them to the profession.

Patients feel like specimens and objects instead of human beings. It's a familiar problem, to be sure, and it is also a paradigm for all of the transactions that occur between persons.

We are all in need, and we all have something to give. Generosity, says Frank, is the missing currency. As I read this book, I became increasingly aware that I occupy both positions in Frank's dialectic on generosity. As a board-certified chaplain I stand among the ranks of health-care providers. In the larger society, however, my cerebral palsy places me with those who are systemically designated as receivers of care.

Frank is right that the value of care is thought to flow from the top down. Frank's notion that giving and receiving both require a honing of skills resonates with me. Frank writes about his own illness, and he refuses to assume a position superior to that of his reader. Frank shares generously with the reader, and the natural response to generosity is more generosity.


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