COMMENTS: Worries and Secrets

For our weekend reading pleasure, CBS' Couric recommended How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman, a professor at the Harvard School of Medicine. It is an insider's look into doctor-patient miscommunication: how physicians pay little attention, listening on average for only 18 seconds to patients describing their symptoms. That leads to misdiagnosis of the ailments of at least 15% of patients, especially the complaints of middle-aged women. "Their symptoms are attributed, snap judgment, to stress, anxiety and menopause," Dr Groopman generalized. Couric offered three key tips: ask about alternate diagnoses; ask about multiple diagnoses; and detail one's greatest worries.

For ABC's A Closer Look, Dan Harris warned readers against getting carried away by the hype around The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. The bestselling self-help formula is a hit on daytime TV's Oprah but not so much on the nightly news. Last month, Bill Whitaker examined the same phenomenon for CBS and concluded that The Secret amounted to a hyped New Age version of The Power of Positive Thinking.

Harris was even less enthused about The Secret's message, which is known as The Law of Attraction: "You can get everything you want--health, wealth, love--simply by thinking it." Harris thought about the danger that thinking might replace medicine or that one might feel guilty when bad things happen because one had failed to think hard enough. Byrne did not grant him an interview.


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