This section is from the book "Handbook Of Suggestive Therapeutics, Applied Hypnotism, Psychic Science", by Henry S. Munro. Also available from Amazon: Handbook of Suggestive Therapeutics, Applied Hypnotism, Psychic Science.
The personality of a physician is an important asset in the makeup of his professional equipment.
The achievement of personality is the goal sought by every one beginning the study of medicine, and everything pertaining to medical thought, colleges, books, hospitals, clinics, operations, laboratories, dissecting rooms, class associates, quiz masters, instructors, and professors, all combined, furnish the environing and educational factors which collectively go to convert the aspirant into the type of genus homo known as a physician.
Aside from his scientific medical training, the personality of a physician is the greatest factor in the makeup of his professional armamentarium. So much so is this true that we often hear the expression that "the physician is born, not made." Such an expression usually implies that there is an inner quality of personality, which manifests itself in the dealing of a physician with his patients, that does not exist equally in all men equally trained in professional knowledge. There seems to be an inner spring or quality of character that counts when such men are put to the test in the office, or at the bedside, in daily intercourse with others, on any and all occasions, which is a sine qua non to the successful practice of medicine.
There is in every one a quality of personality that either attracts or repels others. It is not necessarily an accompaniment of any special type, or physique, or nervous organization. It is found in men of small build and of neurotic type as well as in those that are robust, phlegmatic, and heavy. Such men frequently make serious blunders in their professional work, but still they hold the people.
It has been a matter of personal experience, in my former work among the medical profession, that I have frequently grasped the hand of ■ stranger and instantly felt that I had found a warm personal friend before we had exchanged any more than a mere formal greeting. On the other hand, I have frequently felt so repulsed at the first glance of a physician that I refused to acknowledge him as a man whom I wished to meet.
Upon one occasion I called upon a physician of high professional attainment whose conduct, when I approached him, was discourteous in the extreme. I looked him squarely in the face for a moment, and extended my hand, saying, in a quiet monotone, "goodby, Doctor." The effect of this upon him needs no comment. He shook hands with me, but learned a lesson. In his reception room he had but one patient, and that one appeared to be an old standby. This was no surprise to me, for that physician had given me a taste of his quality - I never cared to see him again, and so it was with his patients.
From this office I went to see another physician, in the same specialty, who was courteous and human, really showing me more deference than I felt that I deserved. He had won a high place in the esteem of his colleagues by hard work in his home city, and his office was full of patients. The treatment accorded a stranger by that physician was a sample of the quality of the personality of the man - such a quality as the people liked - and he is doing a great work.
Invariably those of the medical profession who are competent men, and who possess this happy streak of personality above illustrated, are making a success of their work.
A little display of those qualities typified by the great religious reformer about two thousand years ago - kindness, sincerity, sympathy, earnestness, fearlessness, bravery, magnanimity, and altruism - is an inestimable element in the personality of the physician. It helps to get control of people - not by force - and better enables him to put them in possession of themselves.
Here is the clue to the explanation of that indefinable psychic quality that the successful physician carries with him which proves a power in therapeutics, and this is manifested all unconsciously by him in every move of his life. It begets the confidence and trust of his patient, and the respect and co-operation that is a most essential factor in the successful treatment of any disease.
Especially is this quality in the physician necessary in the treatment of enlightened and self-respecting people. It begets a reciprocation of that respect which such people feel is due them. They positively refuse to be driven, but it is only an evidence of their high intelligence when they are willing to be led for their own good by the skillful direction of a cultured, competent, conscientious physician.
A sensible display of tact and diplomacy will often enable a physician to win the confidence of a patient, and thus secure the co-operation so essentially necessary for the best results, when being too blunt and abrupt would render him utterly helpless.
To see one physician so manage a little fellow as to get him to submit to the skillful dilatation and treatment of a suppurative dacryocystitis with hardly a whimper by his firmness, and kindness, and tactful persuasion, where another would become nervous and excited, and spend a much longer time in accomplishing this result, his patient crying vehemently and suffering a needless amount of pain on account of his resistance, is an illustration of what personality means in a certain class of work.
It is a great help to a physician to be able to get hold of people and use them to help themselves to get well. "We all help or hinder the recovery of our patients, far more than many realize, by the way we deal with them. "We unconsciously use suggestive therapeutics at every step in our routine work.
People buy goods of the merchant they like, the groceryman they like, the dairyman they like. In all trades this personal factor is taken into account. A dry goods clerk brings a better price because people like him - he knows how to deal with people and to help them to suit themselves in their purchases - but more than in any other department of life does the personality of the physician count in helping people to get well. A patient can not get into your office and walk out without your personality having made some mark upon him. There are people in whose presence you are always at your very best, and for whom you can render the best professional service.