Review of "How Doctors Think" by Jerome Groopman

I bought this book based on newspaper reviews when I was in the midst of an ailment that seemed to puzzle my doctors. Reading the book gave me both the knowledge and the confidence to take the initiative. What was most useful to me was Groopman's observation that doctors often attribute to psychological causes ailments that are unable to diagnose ("it is all in your mind", "you are too anxious", etc). It took effort to convince some of my doctors that there was a physical cause and I replaced those who did not agree. (I had to consult several specialists.) In the process I experienced many of the attitudes of physicians described in the book. Not surprisingly (in retrospect) my ailment turned out to be caused by two factors which is why the cause seemed to be elusive to physicians trained to think that if you see symptom A, then give the patient medication B. In short, current medical thinking is such, that if you get sick, better exhibit the typical symptoms of a simple illness or you are in trouble. (To be expanded.)

(First draft also posted on

May 7, 2007