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VOL. XVI, NO. 13
4/28/98 - 5/11/98

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Life Forms
Letters to the Editor
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BANGS Speak Out
Promo Pipeline
Gary James Interview
Modern Composer
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Mobile Then & Now
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Physician As Healer

[Editor's Note: The following two essays form part of the presentation by Charles B. Rodning, MD, Ph.D., FIGS, FACS, at the Harbinger symposium "Healing and the Spoken/Written Word" on April 23. Dr. Rodning is Professor and Vice-Chair of the Department of Surgery at the University of South Alabama.]

Patient-Physician Interaction:
Healing Power of a Covenant Relationship

[The following essay, which Dr. Rodning co-authored with Danielle Aunay, was first published in Humane Medicine in November, 1988.]

The covenant relationship is a valuable concept in the context of healing -- independent of the classification of a disease process. This concept implies a reintegration of the individual or self to achieve a state of wholeness. This integration is achieved within a covenant relationship with individuals who explicitly and implicitly communicate caring and hope. This healing relationship is effected at the mental/spiritual level by faith -- "the circle of the spirit." Patient-physician relationships are interdependent: physicians function as ministers (servants), perceiving a patient's needs and responding with a demeanor of integrity and candid hopefulness -- offering the gift, if not of healing, at least of wholeness. A physician's realistic and goal-directed responses, commensurate with a patient's specific philosophy of life, reduce the angst associated with the clinical situation and facilitates recovery of a patient's self. [_Full_Story_]

The Humanities in Medicine

[Editor's note: The following essay was co-authored by Charles B. Rodning and Mark D. Williams, and appeared in Life on the Line: Selections on Words & Healing, an anthology co-edited by Sue Walker, Ph.D., and Rosally D. Roffman]

Homo sum; humani nihil a me alienum puto.
(I am a man; and nothing human is foreign to me.)
Heautontimaroumenos I, Terence (Publius Terentius Afer)

Vitruvian Man (Man in Circle and Square), created by Leonardo da Vinci, epitomizes a perception of humankind that existed during the Renaissance (Figure 1). The inherent harmony, measured proportions, and symmetry of a man are depicted, with the extended extremities subtending a circle and a square -- the most divine and perfect of geometric figures. The circle is centered on the umbilicus and is interpreted as the generative or maternal symbol. The square is centered on the symphysis pubis and is interpreted as the masculine or paternal symbol ("foursquare"). The widened stance forms a third geometric figure, an equilateral symbol bounded by the lower extremities. The balance and stability of this configuration, with the feet resting naturally on the surfaces and the hands stretched easily to the boundaries, depicts the reality of a human being, not an abstraction. It also depicts a vision of the incarnation of humankind -- harmoniously created in the image of the Divine, reaching to touch perfection. [_Full_Story_]

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