Letters of Note: What do I want in a doctor?

Great letter by John Steinbeck to his doctor, to supplement the dry medical history forms and underline what was truly important to him. Sample quote:

What do I want in a doctor? Perhaps more than anything else—a friend with special knowledge. If you had never dived and I were with you, it would be my purpose to instruct you in the depths and dangers, of the pleasant and the malign. I guess I mean the same thing somewhat. We are so made that rascally, unsubtle flares may cause a meaningless panic whereas a secret treason may be nibbling away, unannounced or even pleasant as in the rapture of the deep. Two kinds of pain there are—or rather a number of kinds. I think especially of the teaching pain which counsels us not to hurt ourselves as opposed to the blast that signals slow or fast disintegration. Unskilled, we do not know the difference and, I am told, even the skilled lose their knowledge when the thing is in themselves. It seems to me that one would prepare oneself differently to meet these two approaches, if one knew.

Letters of Note: What do I want in a doctor?.


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