Close-up Magician and Lecturer in Medical Ethics and Law, Daniel Sokol’s article “Medicine as Performance: What Can Magicians Teach Doctors?” got us thinking — a rare experience for us during these quarantine days.
We normally read the prestigious Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine for the pictures but the title of this article from 2008 stood out.
Our brain is hardwired to immediately focus on certain key words, such a “Magic,” “Magician(s),” “Card Tricks,” and “Magic Magicians doing Card Tricks.” We know there are surgeries and/or medical therapies that would release us from this focus anomaly but we have found it a pleasant enough brain defect and so we choose to live with it. We are very thankful that those are the words to which we are immediately attracted and not something more untoward or socially unacceptable.
We have a friend who focuses like a laser on the word “______,” and the phrase “_____ on ______, _____.” Our friend’s life is not relaxing and pleasant like ours and reading just about anything posted on the worldwide web becomes a struggle for attention. We haven’t identified the actual words or phrase here in an effort to retain our family-friendly certification. But a good cryptographer — good meaning “talented in his or her field of cryptology” and not in a moral sense — could decipher the blank lines above to figure it out.
But back to the Royal Society of Medicine’s article’s point, magicians can and do intentionally distract their audience to accomplish what appears to be magic.
The article references Darwin Ortiz advice on the best practices for magicians, “Always say the same thing at the same point in each trick you do.” So when advising patients on diagnosis and treatment, there would likely be different non-verbal signs given by the physician.
The article is fascinating and well worth your review.
You can read Mr. Sokol’s article here: Sokol D. K. (2008). Medicine as performance: what can magicians teach doctors? Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 101(9), 443–446. https://doi.org/10.1258/jrsm.2008.080133
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