Human Voices Wake Us
Jerald Winakur Alan Shapiro
The Kent State University Press
Patients and physicians are adrift in this era of rapidly changing medical paradigms. Perhaps it has always been so, though it seems that lately the dissatisfaction on both sides has intensified.
Doctors today are struggling: debt, divorce, substance abuse, burnout, suicide. They succeed or fail on professional treadmills; patient encounters measured out with coffee spoons. The doctor patient relationship is crumbling. Bureaucratic and corporate masters make their never-ending arguments of insidious intent. The overwhelming questions: Now where to turn? How do physicians— and their patients—avoid being crushed by the demands of science, of perfection, of expectations? How do we recover the awe we once felt in this world in which we expend our life force every day? How can we find joy once more?
Human Voices Wake Us is a plea, a prayer, a path for caregivers and patients, for all of us who struggle in difficult circumstances for understanding, enlightenment, and healing. This book is a treatise on the importance of self-reflection, attentiveness to our own inner voice and needs, as well as to those who are struggling with illness, age, infirmity, and loss. It is a call to nurture our idealism: that solid foundation grounding empathic responsiveness and our own humanity.
Jerald Winakur practiced internal and geriatric medicine in San Antonio, Texas, for 36 years. He is currently a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center and associate faculty at the Center for Medical Humanities and Ethics, where he helps teach the core medical curriculum in ethics and professionalism. His medical humanities elective, “Medicine Through Literature,” encourages narrative thinking and reflective writing skills in medical students. Winakur’s first book, Memory Lessons: A Doctor’s Story (2009), chronicled his life in medicine and the long passage he took with his father as he descended into Alzheimer’s. His regular column on aging, Meditations on Geriatric Medicine, appears quarterly in Caring for the Ages. He lectures widely on ethical caregiving in aging America.