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Doctors and paintings: Insights and replenishment for health professionals
  1. P Lazarus
  1. P Lazarus, Department of Medical and Social Care Education, University of Leicester, Maurice Shock Medical Sciences Building, PO Box 138, Leicester, LE1 9HW, UK; pal6{at}

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John Middleton, Erica Middleton. Oxford: Radcliffe Publishing 2006 pp 102, £24.95 (paperback). ISBN -139781846190520

The role of the arts in medical education and professional development is becoming more widely recognised. Common themes running through these veins are those of personal reflection, building self-knowledge and thinking in a more divergent vein. These attributes are already present in most, if not all, medical practitioners and it is interesting to note that the subtitle of this book is Insights and Replenishment for Health Professionals. Many clinicians feel that such powers are easily eroded by the everyday trials and tribulations of clinical life, leaving the practitioner focused on the biomedical tasks at hand and somewhat cynical about their patients and, indeed, themselves. The term “replenishment” implies that one’s understanding of oneself and others can be topped up as necessary, and often all that is needed is perhaps a different context from which to draw this sustenance. Here, this book argues, is where paintings come in.

The authors are a husband-and-wife team. He is a general practitioner (albeit one with greater than average creative drive across several arts domains), and she is a painter and teacher of art history. This might seem an ideal combination for writing this book. The clinical flavour comes out in the parallel pen portraits of some typical “heartsink” patients …

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