Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Dr. Pingoy's Naming Our Wounds

Dr. Noel Pingoy in his introduction to Cotabato Literary Journal's special 40th issue, "Naming Our Wounds," writes about the value of language and communication in the art and science of medicine.

Espousing abstracted language was part of enlisting into the medical guild and served its goal of shorthand transmission of knowledge among professionals. Such communication was once regarded as absolute and all-encompassing and was conveyed with noble intentions. But all too often it was ambiguous to a layperson and carried out to abbreviate or even cease more discussion. It also worked to curtail a doctor’s scrutiny of the values and beliefs of people before him—the patient and family members—individuals seeking an explanation that made sense to them as people, not merely cases. Doctors needed to explain what this technical information meant not only for their hearts and lungs or kidneys and liver but also for their soul. The diagnosis and treatment were just doorways to a discourse about the emotional and social impact of a particular condition and what the doctor was purporting to do about it.

When doctors write about their experiences and those of their patients, it compels them to revisit a more ordinary language, one that, while still clinically precise, is truer to feelings, perceptions, and sensibilities. Such writing enables doctors step down from the podium of the professional and plumb their internal and external persona from more human perspectives.

I'm thrilled to be a part of this issue. My essay, "The Long Wait to Cure," is up, along with a number of works of poetry, prose, and fiction by writers from the Soccsksargen Region in Southern Philippines.

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