The Doctor & The Pastor – Part II

Friends, I recently reviewed the manuscript for a new book Living Free In An Anxious World (my review is here). This is an essential book for pastors, Christian counselors, psychologists, and medical doctors which deals with a problem that is only expanding: worry, stress, anxiety. I ecnourage you to pre-order a copy of this powerful book. Or, stay tuned to this blog for a chance to win a free copy in just a couple of weeks.

In the meantime, I am absolutely thrilled that the co-authors of Living Free In An Anxious World have agreed to write to my blog readers! Today is the second installment from Dr. Lanny Hunter. (If you missed Part I, you can check it out here.)

Guest Author: Dr. R. Lanny Hunter

In my profession as a dermatologist, it’s fair to say that most of my patients come to see me because they are worried. Patients may have developed a rash that worries them. What is it? Is it contagious? Is it serious? Will it scar? What will people think? Can I get rid of it?

Patients may have developed a skin growth, a lump, a sore that won’t heal, a place that is changing color, causing pain, or bleeding. Again, they are worried. Is it cancer? Is it life threatening? Can it be cured? If I do make a diagnosis of cancer, their anxiety escalates. Will I die? How long do I have to live? How will it be treated? What should I tell my spouse? My family?

Beyond questions of diagnosis, treatment, and questions of severity of illness, many worry about medical costs. How much will it cost? Will my insurance pay for it? They may confide that their insurance has a very high deductible, or that they have no insurance at all, or that they live only on Social Security and Medicare. Will treatment bankrupt them?

In the course of consultation, medical care, and surgery, patients reveal more than their medical worries. They confide their life disappointments—marriage problems, work conflicts, children in trouble, personal and vocational failures, criminal escapades.

Patients with worry and anxiety are my life’s work. To that end, I use all of the interpersonal skills, psychological insights, religious convictions, and medical skills that I have acquired through training and experience. I must listen compassionately and constructively, and be armed with the latest medical techniques in treating disease. I must be cognizant of my limitations in skill and time. I may need to refer a patient to a psychologist, psychiatrist, pastor, priest, social worker, or another physician. I must always remember that I’m not treating the skin. I’m treating the whole person.

With that holistic approach in mind, my brother (a pastor) and I (a physician) have authored a book, Living Free in an Anxious World, which combines the insights of our two vocations to help people manage worry and anxiety in order to free them for more productive living. 

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