Book Review: The Anatomy Of Hope

This New York Times best-selling book, written by an internationally-acclaimed doctor from Harvard Medical School, Jerome Groopman, sheds light on the definitive link between hope, healing and health and how these elements come into play on a biological level when it comes to the patient’s journey of recovery after serious illness.

What makes The Anatomy Of Hope a good read?

In a way that tells the story of a beloved doctor’s journey in becoming a physician, from his student days in medical school, through internship, residency, being a hematologist-oncologist and working in some of America’s most well-known hospitals, this book provides insight into the mind of the doctor assigned to a patient with a life-threatening condition. It highlights the relationship between physician and patient, focusing on how some patients stay with doctors even when they are no longer there, on the lives lost in the fight against conditions like cancer, and on the way doctors work with their patient’s minds, which can have an immense effect on how they keep fighting. More than anything, it emphasizes how something as simple as hope can have a deciding influence on whether the patient recovers from his or her condition.

Each chapter in the book features a different (often anonymous) patient or fellow physician with whom Groopman worked on the journey, along with the lessons he learned along the way. Throughout the book, Groopman details how his perspective on this the topic of hope and perspective changed over his 30 years in practice, while he continually placed emphasis on the role of hope as a key player in the journey between illness and recovery.

“Now, when I meet a new patient, listen to his history, perform a physical examination, review his laboratory tests, and study his X-rays, I am doing more than gathering and analyzing clinical data. I am searching for hope. Hope, I have come to believe, is as vital to our lives and the very oxygen that we breathe.”

Who will enjoy this book?

In addition to being a world-renown oncologist, holding Dina and Raphael Recanati Chair of Medicine at Harvard Medical and various other titles, Groopman happens to be a great storyteller. The Anatomy of Hope reads a bit like your loving grandfather recounting the stories of his days in the Marine Corps, and real-life conversations – which he seamlessly pulls into the chapters – give the book an endearing humanity. Anyone with an interest in medicine, oncology and the fight against illness will enjoy this read. Click here to find out more about the doctor and his work.

I met him and his wife earlier in the year and absolutely loved his take on the current state of things in the medical realm. Click on the link for my exclusive interview with Dr. Groopman and Dr. Hartzband on how hope can change the course of an illness on a biological level.