Try a Little Tenderness

by Academy of Clinical Excellence on February 15, 2013

This recent Valentine’s Day-themed blog post from the NY Times is surprisingly relevant to our work as clinicians. Its author Gordon Marino offers a powerful reflection on tenderness and how the warmth and intimacy of this feeling compares to respect.  Enjoy!

Some highlights:

“If a primary aim in life is to develop into a caring and connected human being (admittedly, a big “if”), rather than, say, thinking of oneself as a tourist collecting as many pleasant and fulfilling experiences as possible, then surely a capacity for tenderness must play a role.”

“In general, tenderness involves increased sensitivity.”

“…and we are perhaps moved by the impulse to reach out with a comforting hand.”

“While I have all the respect in the world for respect, it is a chilly sort of feeling — if it is a feeling at all. Respect is a fence that prevents us from harming one another. But strengthening the ties that bind and make us human requires something more pliant, more intimate.”

Margaret S. Chisolm, MD
Associate Professor
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University

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