1. Featured Article: The Initial Encounter with Eyes Wide Open

by admin on 08/12/2019 12:16 AM
  1. The Initial Encounter with Eyes Wide Open

For all the importance we place on words, whether spoken or written, much of the communicating we do on a regular basis comes through body language.  

According to pioneering research by Dr. Albert Mehrabian, only (7) seven percent of the meaning we derive from human communication comes from the actual spoken words used.  An additional 38 percent comes from tone of voice while a whopping 55 percent comes from body language alone. Though, these findings remain controversial, there is no disputing that facial expressions, physical gestures, body posturing, and even our patterns of breathing can provide an amazing array of information for other people to interpret.   

Researchers have long identified that certain kinds of body movements and facial expressions can convey information about the emotions we happen to be experiencing at the any given time.   Even when physical movements are broken down into point-light displays that convey minimal information about how we move,  research subjects are still able to interpret emotional states based solely on body language.  

In Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell, we meet the psychologist who has learned to predict from the use of certain facial muscles which of the people being interrogated were lying and then found to be guilty.. Although words were what the subject was responding to facially, the critical information was non-verbal. But it was important information which helped in the solution of the crime.

Abigail Zuger, in an article in the New York Times in July 1999, explored what happened to the doctor’s physical examination of patients which for centuries was medicine’s most elegant diagnostic tool for probing a patient’s interior prior to the medical technology revolution. But was the physical examination the most important item in making a diagnosis?

In my training in the 1960s we were told by our medical faculty that the medical history was the key to making a diagnosis in three-fourths of patient encounters. The physical examination added about another ten percent. The laboratory, ECG, x-rays and testing was for the remainder 15 percent of diagnostic problems.

Ms Zuger’s emphases on touching and probing the human body does point out that the touching, physical examination is very important from the patient’s point of view.

I remember as a senior member of my medical group receiving a complaint from a patient that our new doctor charged for an examination while in the hospital, but he never examined her. On speaking with our newcomer, he replied that he did not need to examine that patient because he had all the necessary information from other sources. My response to him was that the patient needed to be physically examined on every encounter or his income would decrease. The patient would have a valid complaint, which could be substantiated and thus had to be written off.

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