The Inner Lives of Doctors
A groundbreaking examination of the pain, pressure and joy of medical work by a psychologist known as the 'doctor's doctor'
'A furious dispatch from the front line of the hospital system.' THE TIMES, Book of the Week
Doctors are the people we turn to in our darkest moments. We trust them with our lives. But what does that stress do to a person?
What does it take to confront death, disease, distress and suffering every day? To work in a healthcare system stretched to breaking point? To make decisions that will change lives – or possibly end them? And how do doctors cope with their own questions and fears, when they are expected to have all the answers?
Caroline Elton is a psychologist who, for two decades, has specialised in helping doctors: the obstetrician whose own fertility treatment failed; the trainee oncologist struggling to face patients with the disease that killed her father; the brilliant neurosurgeon whose career stalled in an environment hostile to women; and many more.
Drawing on extraordinary case studies and decades of work supporting clinicians, Also Human presents a provocative, perceptive and deeply humane examination of the modern medical profession.
'Written with perceptive sympathy for the wounded healer, it is necessary reading for both doctors and patients.' HILARY MANTEL
'Crucial and timely.' ATUL GAWANDE
'Fascinating and troubling. Read it and weep.' SUSIE ORBACH
'Haunting, beautiful and urgent.' JOHANN HARI
'At the heart of this book is the problem of how emotional resilience can be identified in prospective doctors and strengthened in practising doctors. We are fallible human beings, not omniscient gods.' HENRY MARSH, SUNDAY TIMES
“All agree there is a crisis in health care, but this book looks behind the headlines and tots up the human cost of a flawed system. Written with perceptive sympathy for the wounded healer, it is necessary reading for both doctors and patients.”
“With a compassionate eye for detail and a deep understanding of just how the systems we train and practice in as doctors can fail us as human beings, Caroline Elton offers a crucial and timely reminder that doctors are Also Human.”
Atul Gawande, author of Being Mortal
“This furious dispatch from the front line of the hospital system argues we must care for our medics more... a book that may have found its popular moment.”
Helen Rumbelow, The Times, 'Book of the Week'
“Caroline Elton is an occupational psychologist who has worked with medics for more than 20 years. She is uniquely qualified to comment... I’d be surprised if anyone who reads it will ever look at doctors in the same light again.”
Decca Aitkenhead, Guardian
“Also Human describes, through a series of case histories... the emotional and psychological problems that doctors can face. The interesting question... is how doctors overcome such feelings and carry on working, despite often having to witness, and sometimes cause, terrible suffering for our patients. At the heart of this book is the problem of how emotional resilience can be identified in prospective doctors and strengthened in practising doctors. We are fallible human beings, not omniscient gods.”
Henry Marsh, Sunday Times
“Her descriptions of the psychological forces underlying the way doctors act … is fascinating, with succinct explorations.”
“Fascinating, troubling, educative. Read Elton and weep and then think, argue and implement what needs doing to support not squander our medics.”
“Have you ever wondered what your doctor thinks and feels once you walk out the door? Also Human is the uncensored answer - and it’s haunting, beautiful, and urgent for all of us to know.”
“An important, necessary book. Also Human shows that doctors are indeed all so human.”
Dean Burnett, author of The Idiot Brain
“Doctors are people, too. They possess the same virtues, faults, fears and desires of the rest of us but it's easy for patients to forget this obvious truth. Caroline Elton's revelatory, sometimes disturbing, book, is a welcome reminder of this. For doctors and patients alike, this book is required reading.”
Nick Rennison, Daily Mail
“A shocking indictment of a system of training and supervision that ought to have gone out of fashion and use decades ago. Caroline Elton's incisive prose, and her impatience with the way people display prejudice and poor practice in front of her makes for very good, if highly disturbing, reading. I was horrified by this book, but so glad she has written it.”
“Shocking… a graphic exposé of the exhaustion, depression, and stress among doctors and it has sent shock waves across the health services.”
“Timely, passionately argued.”
British Journal of General Practice