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Developing Empathy for Patients with Mental Illnesses


In an era where burnout is common, it can be difficult to provide empathic care to patients. There may be a tendency to resort to pharmacotherapy as a replacement to psychodynamic or empathic approaches. This may be appealing as an easy fix, especially in the primary care setting where most non-acute psychiatric care is administered. Throughout their medical education, students are taught methods to narrow differential diagnoses to direct appropriate medical therapy. In addition to the science of medicine, students are often instructed to practice the art of medicine, which can be summarized with the quote, “cure sometimes, relieve often, comfort always.”

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