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[Perspectives] A psychiatrist’s search for resilience

Christine Montross wrote her first memoir, Body of Work: Meditations on Mortality from the Human Anatomy Lab, when she was still a medical student. In it she described the process of dissecting a cadaver with a poet’s attention to detail and metaphor. When her female cadaver inexplicably lacked an umbilicus, for example, she and her lab partners named her Eve. Anatomy lab became for her, as for many medical students, an initiation into the complicated emotional work of being a doctor. She learned to contain her emotions without becoming indifferent.