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Dr. Robert Klitzman on the Numinous Side of Medicine

Dr. Robert Klitzman, the director of the graduate program in Bioethics, was featured on the HuffPost Religion podcast “All Together." He spoke about his research and insights on the more numinous side of medicine.

“I should say the method I use is one that’s informed by psychiatry, but also anthropology and sociology,” Klitzman said in the podcast.

When Klitzman himself was diagnosed with depression, he began to understand the emotional and spiritual challenges that patients face. His personal and professional experiences inspired him to write several books that reflect on the deeper meaning of medicine, including When Doctors Become Patients and Am I My Genes?.

“I see myself as trying to understand how people deal with moral issues in their lives, and larger metaphysical questions that we all face,” said Klitzman.

While researching his book When Doctors Become Patients, Klitzman said that he spent a lot of time talking to doctors who had experiences as patients. “I ended up interviewing 75 doctors who had had serious illness about what they learned, what they unlearned. One of the things that struck me most is how much spiritual issues and religious issues came up,” he said.

In seeking more profound answers to the existential questions that medicine raises, his focus has become increasingly holistic. He encourages his fellow doctors to broaden their view as well, and venture beyond mere diagnoses when thinking about patients.

Listen to the original podcast on HuffPost Religion. Learn more about the M.S. in Bioethics program.