Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Medical Doctor (MD)

First Advisor

Nancy Angoff


This thesis investigates physicians personal memoirs from the early days of the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) epidemic. It proposes that AIDS doctors wrote to explore the personal, professional, and social crises of AIDS. Their memoirs reveal that during the AIDS epidemic healing often took place in the personal connection between doctor and patientthat is, during the AIDS epidemic, doctors, unable to cure, cared for their patients by listening to them, empathizing with them, and engaging them not from a stance of clinical detachment but rather as friends and witnesses to their suffering. This study considers why these doctors were compelled to tell their stories of AIDS care. In order to find out, six physician-authors Rafael Campo, Jerome Groopman, Kate Scannell, Peter Selwyn, Abraham Verghese, and Abigail Zugerwere interviewed. They were asked why they wrote, how they decided what to write about, and how having written such a book has affected their doctoring. Their responses are considered alongside analysis of their memoirs. All six felt that writing allowed them to process for themselves and present to the medical and lay publics a model of care which posits devotion, compassion, and companionship at the center of a doctors work


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