The Art of Diagnosis

The art of diagnosis is disappearing and I take this as a very sad occurrence. One of the problems, perhaps, is that western medicine and scientists try so hard to ensure that there is no art to diagnosis; that it is a strict scientific discovery. In prior posts I have demonstrated how the art and the science must co-exist to arrive at a comprehensive and holistic diagnosis using our minds (theory) plus our senses (touch/palpation, listening, smelling, looking, etc.) and our experience and intuition.

Just yesterday, a New York Times Magazine article was brought to my attention. It was about diagnosing a young girl with periodic fevers and abdominal pain that would come and go every so often. The doctors were perplexed and it wasn’t until she had a positive test that they had any real idea of what was going on. If only this was a rare occurrence, I would pay it no mind. But the following quote was made by one of the doctors. It struck me how sad it is that a doctor could make this statement; especially as it seemed to be stated out of a pride for the advancement of western diagnostic tests. What about the decline of medical diagnosis? The quote was:

“In medicine, we can only really know a disease once we have a test that can reliably identify it.”


  1. Years ago, the neurologist I work with said: “By the time the patient gets fown the hall to my office, I know the diagnosis.”As a green young acupuncture physician I said: “That’s the art of medicine.” “No,” he says. “The art of medicine is that I still do a thorough exam.”So all is not lost. Some doctors still think. And others still feel.

  2. That is very encouraging. My hope is that it becomes the norm, not the exception. Thanks.Ross