chapter  18
12 Pages

THE HYPHENATED SPACE: LIMINALITY IN THE DOCTOR-PATIENT RELATIONSHIP

ByRonald A. Carson

The hyphen is a key to understanding the relationship between patients and doctors. The hyphen simultaneously signifies separation and synergy, disjunction and conjunction. It calls attention to the distance between parties to the clinical encounter. And then, in the blink of an eye, it is a bridge across the divide.1 The hyphen does double-duty. It signifies the reserve, the holding back, that is no doubt necessary when doctor and patient come together to consider matters personal and sometimes grave. And it reminds us that recasting one’s life story in response to illness or injury is a joint venture requiring doctor and patient to work together to achieve what neither can accomplish individually.