A British psychiatrist urges his collegues to read novels, arguing that “reading literature could help doctors better understand the ‘narratives’ of their patients”:
In the eighteenth century, it was held that a doctor should be a man of culture, well versed in the arts, which would confer wisdom on his clinical practice. Nowadays, doctors prefer to see themselves as scientists and biotechnicians, said Dr Beveridge, and many saw a knowledge of the arts as irrelevant.
However, there were six good reasons in favour of psychiatrists reading literature, Dr Beveridge told delegates. The first was that literature allowed doctors to engage with many more people and “inner worlds” than they could ever hope to do as individuals. Secondly, doctors need a deeper understanding of their patients that took account of their emotional lives; a purely bioscientific model offered a limited view of human beings. Literature offered a richer perspective, said Dr Beveridge.