How To Remember Things, Redux

Photo: quapan

I once came up with a metaphor I thought perfectly captured the sheer mass of material my classmates and I were expected to memorize in our first two years of medical school: it was like being asked to enter a grocery store and memorize the names of every product in the store, […]

An Alternative to Willpower for Losing Weight

Photo: flossyflotsam

A common belief, even among doctors, is that almost no one succeeds in losing weight in the long term. And for almost two decades, I’ve counted myself among the skeptics, being able to tally on the fingers of one hand the number of my patients who’ve managed to do it—literally less than […]

Your Neighbor Is An Alcoholic, Redux

Photo: peteSwede

My patient smiled a toothless grin and told me, “I feel fine, doc.” But he was far from it. His liver enzymes had risen into the thousands, his skin was a pasty yellow I didn’t need the benefit of sunlight to see, and his albumin (a protein whose level indicates the liver’s […]

Cigarette Smoking Is Caused By A Delusion, Redux

Photo: P.13

I leaned back in my chair and breathed a heavy sigh. My patient, Mr. Rodriguez (not his real name), noticed my discomfort. “I know I should quit,” he told me with a guilty shrug of his shoulders.

“Have you ever tried?” I asked.

“Once,” he replied, “but it didn’t stick.”

Mr. Rodriguez […]

How To Raise Your Good Cholesterol

Photo: VinothChandar

Most people know it’s important to get their bad cholesterol (LDL) down to reduce their risk of heart attacks and strokes. Fewer people know that it’s also important to raise their good cholesterol (HDL) for the same reasons. Almost no one knows, however, that a low HDL likely puts them at a […]

Win An Autographed Copy Of The Undefeated Mind

Photo: skippyjon

THIS CONTEST IS NOW OVER. MANY THANKS TO ALL WHO PARTICIPATED.

This post is going to be a little different from my usual fare and quite brief. My book The Undefeated Mind: On the Science of Constructing an Indestructible Self is set to hit bookstores on November 6th, and today I’m announcing […]

The Human Body From Head To Toe

Photo: adrigu

One of the reasons I was drawn to medicine is that I’ve always been fascinated by the workings of the human body on all its levels. Truly, nothing in nature stands as its equal—flaws and all (and there are a few). So I thought today I’d share just a few of the […]

The Five Questions Patients Should Ask Their Doctors

Photo: hang_in_there

I once had a patient in whom I found a small breast lump. She was only thirty-two, and the lump was soft, non-tender, and mobile. But it was new. She examined her breasts monthly and was certain that she hadn’t felt it the month before. And she had a family history of […]

How To Survive A Hospitalization

Photo: morrissey

Just two weeks ago, my hospital went live with a full ambulatory electronic medical record. Though the roll out wasn’t without its challenges, the software is simply outstanding. There is almost nothing about a patient’s medical history I can’t now access with a few clicks of a mouse button. Not only do […]

Do You Need Antibiotics?

Photo: Nathan Reading

One hundred fifty million prescriptions for antibiotics are written each year in the United States. By some estimates, one third of them are unnecessary. One of the most common diagnoses for which antibiotics are inappropriately prescribed is upper respiratory tract infections (URIs). The overwhelming majority of these infections are viral—infections for […]