The Subjective in Clinical Judgment

  • Eric J. Cassell
Part of the Philosophy and Medicine book series (PHME, volume 6)


Someone telephones the doctor that he has had increasing dull pain in the right side of his abdomen and back for several hours. While not exactly nauseated, he is repelled by the thought of food. He thinks the pain is the same as that of his wife when she had her gallbladder attack. The patient’s complaint is clearly subjective and of the type that most often initiates the medical act. Yet, in its subjectivity, the report lies in a domain of medical practice that is least understood, or more precisely that is least systematized. The deficiencies of medical practice in regard to the subjective are highlighted by the increasing use of the problem-oriented medical record as a tool of medical education. In Medical Records, Medical Education, and Patient Care; The Problem-Oriented Record as a Basic Tool, Lawrence Weed [4] points out the equal importance of patients’ subjective experience with objective, measurable facts of medicine. Further, Dr. Weed gives excellent examples of the kind of profiles of patients’ personal and social lives that should be included in any complete medical record.


Sense Data Clinical Judgment Rheumatic Heart Disease Gallbladder Disease Mumps Virus 
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  1. 1.
    Guttentag, O. E.: 1969, ‘Medical Humanism: A Redundant Phrase’, The Pharos, January, 12–15.Google Scholar
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    Harley, J. (ed.): 1967, Advance Techniques of Hypnosis and Therapy: Selected Papers of M. H Erickson, Grune & Stratton, New York.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Percy, W.: 1975, The Message in the Bottle, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Weed, L.: 1969, Medical Records, Medical Education, and Patient Care; The Problem-Oriented Record as a Basic Tool, Press of Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Zborowski, M.: 1969, People in Pain, Jossey-Bass Inc., San Francisco.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eric J. Cassell
    • 1
  1. 1.Cornell University Medical CollegeNew YorkUSA

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