As our preoccupation with empathy grows, we cast about for means of inculcating it. Literature has been proposed as an enabling factor for physicians in developing a creative imagination. This essay, using a number of examples, points out that reading for pleasure in areas not necessarily related to medicine, can yield insights into its practice. Thus, sensitizing students and young physicians to the nuances of human interaction described by great writers could constitute part of basic and continuing medical education and might be one way of instilling empathy.
Copyright 2000 Harcourt Publishers Ltd.