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The patient’s lament: hidden key to effective communication: how to recognise and transform
  1. B Bub
  1. Correspondence to:
 B Bub
 19 Arnold Drive, Woodstock NY, USA;


“Our dancing is changed into mourning” Lamentations 5:15 to “you turned my lament into dancing” Psalm 30:12.

Numerous studies and well publicised complaints from the public have long revealed a pressing need for physicians to improve their communication skills and their ability to interpret and respond appropriately to what they hear from patients. Rushed and dispirited, physicians are routinely urged to become more compassionate and to spend more time listening. This article challenges the myth that listening is a time consuming art propelled by compassion and demonstrates that it is in fact a highly active professional skill that can be greatly clarified and simplified for practising physicians. The lament is offered as a universally encountered, sometimes masked, expression that patients need to have heard and validated. An intellectual understanding of the lament as a symptom of suffering greatly facilitates the listening process and enables the listener to respond therapeutically. This saves time, improves quality of care, and enhances the wellbeing and satisfaction of both physician and patient.

  • lament
  • listening
  • communication
  • narrative
  • healing
  • litigation

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