368 PSYCHOTHERAPY : SCIENTIFIC AND RELIGIOUS chap.
a suitable opportunity, or when the appropriate stimulus, is presented.
Everyone is affected by suggestion. Throughout the whole of our lives we are, whether aware of it or not, making suggestions to other individuals, and at the same time we are receiving and acting upon suggestions from them for we all tend to identify ourselves with those around us.
Sensitivity both in giving and accepting suggestions is the very essence of the good bedside manner. The wise doctor recognizes that there are two matters concerning which the patient is always craving information ; he wishes to know how the doctor thinks he is progressing, and also to be assured that he is really interested in him, for, he argues, the best doctor is the one who is truly interested in his patients. Hence it is very deleterious when a patient becomes a mere number, as he so easily may in an institution, and worse still when he is treated as a ' specimen ', to be discussed freely as though he were merely an interesting object. Consequently we see the importance of a good memory, or of carefully kept notes. The few words which remind the patient of the last occasion when he was seen, perhaps a year or two ago, have a very beneficial effect on him. For this reason, though his visit may be brief, the doctor avoids appearing to be in a hurry. Information on the second matter, how the doctor thinks he is progressing, is often avidly sought. The patient does not take the doctor's word at its face value, and it is therefore not so much what he says as how he says it that is important. The raising of an eyebrow when feeling the pulse, the way in which the thermometer is looked at, or the temperature chart examined, all convey their information to the patient, information which is not intended and which may be incorrectly interpreted. As the