Sherwin B. Nuland Quotes

Sherwin Bernard Nuland (born Shepsel Ber Nudelman; December 8, 1930 – March 3, 2014) was an American surgeon and writer who taught bioethics, history of medicine, and medicine at the Yale School of Medicine, and occasionally bioethics and history of medicine at Yale College. His 1994 book How We Die: Reflections on Life's Final Chapter was a New York Times Best Seller and won the National Book Award for Nonfiction, as well as being a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

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Sherwin B. Nuland


Medical judgment can be taught - laboriously, in long periods of training - but it cannot be neatly handed over as the occasion demands it. It is the irreplaceable and untransferable contribution that the healer makes to the suffering individual who would be healed.

Sherwin B. Nuland


Being someone who had had a very difficult childhood, a very difficult adolescence - it had to do with not quite poverty, but close. It had to do with being brought up in a family where no one spoke English, no one could read or write English. It had to do with death and disease and lots of other things. I was a little prone to depression.

Sherwin B. Nuland


Only the emerging specialty of psychoanalysis seemed to understand that mental maladies are not fully analogous to physical disease. They resist classification, and might better be known by their symptoms and the individualized sufferings of patients than by assigned names.

Sherwin B. Nuland


Death with dignity' is our society's expression of the universal yearning to achieve a graceful triumph over the stark and often repugnant finality of life's last sputterings. But the fact is, death is not a confrontation. It is simply an event in the sequence of nature's ongoing rhythms.

Sherwin B. Nuland


Where nothing in a person's earlier years lends itself to an old age devoted to continuing intellectual and physical pursuits, a late-life interest in Tolstoy or even crossword puzzles is unlikely to appear, no matter the urging by well-intentioned social workers or people like me who write books about it.

Sherwin B. Nuland


There are resurrection themes in every society that has ever been studied, and it is because not just only do we fantasize about the possibility of resurrection and recovery, but it actually happens. And it happens a lot.

Sherwin B. Nuland


I was, in the 1960s, in a marriage. To use the word 'bad' would be perhaps the understatement of the year. It was dreadful.

Sherwin B. Nuland


Not death but disease is the real enemy; disease, the malign force that requires confrontation. Death is the surcease that comes when the exhausting battle has been lost.

Sherwin B. Nuland


Nosology (from the Greek 'nosos,' meaning 'disease,' and 'logos,' referring to 'study') is not a sport for the timid, and certainly not for those so scrupulous about rules and order that they demand consistency in all things.

Sherwin B. Nuland


Both individual fulfillment and the ecological balance of life on this planet are best served by dying when our inherent biology decrees that we do.

Sherwin B. Nuland


I think when you think of death as being part of the life cycle and recognize that death is an inevitability for our species because the world has to be renewed with each death, then the hope becomes when it is renewed it will be renewed by people on whom I have had some influence for good.

Sherwin B. Nuland


I have not often seen much dignity in the process by which we die.

Sherwin B. Nuland


At times, morality can be dismissed as a matter of personal conscience, no matter how widespread its acceptance. Ethics, on the other hand, arises from societal or group commitments to principia of behavior.

Sherwin B. Nuland


You know, ever since man had any notion that some of his other people, his colleagues, could be different, could be strange, could be severely depressed or what we now recognize as schizophrenia, he was certain that this kind of illness had to come from evil spirits getting into the body.

Sherwin B. Nuland


Too many of the elderly do not have the family or the communal attachments necessary to feel valued; too many are widowed or otherwise alone; too many live in surroundings where they are essentially without the companionship necessary to stimulate a mind in danger of deteriorating.

Sherwin B. Nuland