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Bearing witness to people who refuse to be fragmented by illness
  1. Deborah Kirklin
  1. Department of Primary Care & Population Sciences, Royal Free & University College Medical School, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Deborah Kirklin, Department of Primary Care & Population Sciences, Royal Free & University College Medical School, Archway Campus, Second Floor Holborn Union Building, 2–10 Highgate Hill, London, N19 5LW, UK; d.kirklin{at}pcps.ucl.ac.uk

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If you've accessed this editorial online then I hope you will take time to go back and look at the cover of this issue. Take time to look at Mark Gilbert's extraordinary portrait of Jarad, which is also featured in this issue's Editor's Choice article (see page 5).1 If you do, then I suspect that the experience of looking at and engaging with this portrait of care will be profound, and, depending perhaps on your perspective and your experiences, even a little disturbing. For some of you this will be the first time you have born witness to someone else's experience of illness, and you may be struck by the introspective quality of Jarad's portrait. Others will already know more than they wish to about being ill or of caring for someone who is ill. One way or another, after looking at this portrait of Jarad, at least some of you may feel that you know something about him, or at least know something about what he has lived through, and how it has affected who he is.

This sudden intimacy with a stranger is, for many people, an unfamiliar experience, although for many healthcare professionals it is …

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