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Diagnosis and Treatment |

Techniques of Interviewing: I. Interviewing and the Meaning of the Symptom

Ann Intern Med. 1969;71(1):147-153. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-71-1-147
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The interview process of clinical medicine as the basic tool of accumulating the data essential for diagnosis and as the vehicle for the therapeutic process is discussed. For diagnostic purposes, the physician should approach the presenting complaint or symptom of the patient as a translator who will attempt to interpret the organic, social, and psychological meanings of that symptom by participating in a specific interview methodology that will allow for the free flow and unbiased production of the requisite data. The symptom itself identifies the final common pathways that the body uses for manifestation of its feelings; reactions; behavior, including illness; and whether these represent responses to the internal or external milieu in which the organism exists. The relationship that develops during the interview process and how this in itself is therapeutic for the patient—as it contains most of the primary ingredients of psychotherapy: support, ventilation, and clarification—is also discussed.





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