Medical Expert; Psychiatrist; Acclaimed Novelist, Playwright, Essayist, and Activist
Travels from: Massachusetts • Fee Code: Contact WWSG
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Samuel Shem, pen name of Dr. Stephen Bergman, is a psychiatrist, an acclaimed novelist, playwright, essayist, and activist. Dr. Shem is described as “Easily the finest and most important writer ever to focus on the lives of doctors and the world of medicine” (Bulletin of the Harvard Club of NYC). As a graduate of Harvard Medical School, a Rhodes scholar, a practicing physician for four decades, and a faculty member for 25 years, Shem is an expert on medicine, psychiatry, neuroscience, the treatment of alcoholics and other addicts. He is also a well-known, inspirational speaker on the importance of being human as the centrality of good connection in life and work. He has spoken all over the world—including commencement speeches at more than 50 medical schools—using his writing and experience in medicine to inspire and instruct his audience in “Staying Human in Health Care and Life.”
His novels, The House of God, Fine and Mount Misery have sold over 3 million copies and are fictional but close-to-real first-hand descriptions of the training of American doctors. He is noted all over the world by health care professionals for The House of God and has been referred to as “the comic genius and the holy terror of medicine,” “Rabelaisian,” and “the raucous and insightful physician of the soul.” Shem was most formerly a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, division of addictions.
- Staying Human in Medicine and Life: from The House of God and The Spirit of the Place
- Staying Human in Corporations: The Human Resources “Connection Model” of Innovation
- The House of God: Lessons for a Humane Health Care Policy
- Using Humor in Hard Times: The House of God as a Pathway Through Life
ABOUT Samuel Shem (+/-)
The House of God
Published in 1978, The House of God is known for its outrageous humor and authentic description of the inhumanities of medicine—and for pointing the way to bringing care and humanity to medical practice. As The Boston Globe describes it: “He infuses mercy into the practice of medicine.” Having sold almost three million copies in thirty languages, it is referred to as ‘the Bible’ for medical students and doctors, recognized as “a classic,” and “one of the two most significant medical novels of the 20th century” (Lancet). As John Updike wrote: “A tale of venture into the valley of death and the truth of the flesh—more timely than ever.”
SPEAKER TOPIC DESCRIPTIONS (+/-)
With humor, insight and wisdom gathered in four decades as a practicing physician and author, Shem takes his audience on a journey through his writing, his doctoring, and life. Using his first, classic medical novel, The House of God and his other award-winning novels, plays and nonfiction, he will discuss the inhumanities we all face in our work and our professions, and lay out practical steps to transform our suffering to awareness, and humane actions to help ourselves and others The core theme is the risk of isolation, and the healing power of good connection. In essence, how to live in a way that makes sure that we “don’t spread more suffering around” (from The Spirit of the Place).
With ten years as a original Venture Partner/Human Resource manager at one of the largest and innovative biotech venture capital companies, MPM Capital, Dr. Shem will describe “The Connection Model.” Shem describes how to deal with the core issue of creating mutuality in relationships—from couples to large corporate systems. The model, developed by Shem and his wife Dr. Janet Surrey, derived from their more ten years of research and published studies on conducting gender dialogues all over the world, and resulted in a published nonfiction book, We Have to Talk: Healing Dialogues Between Women and Men, and a complete curriculum, “Creating Connection in the Classroom.” Shem shares two key principles of the model and tips for making a better workplace environment and a better life.
In the age of Obamacare, its policy implications rolling out over the next few years, the state of the U.S. health care system is in flux. Based on the wide appeal of his novel The House of God and its impact on health care policy, Dr. Shem has been called upon to speak about the broken U.S. healthcare system. Shem provides innovative recommendations on how to create a just, fiscally-sound healthcare policy. His decades of experience in the trenches as a practicing physician—from emergency rooms to psychiatry—and his collaboration with health care workers all over the world from China through Europe and at almost every medical school in America, he has become an expert, with humor and insight, in describing the inhumanities, and the solutions.
Known as “the comic genius and conscience of medicine,” Dr. Shem uses entertaining vignettes and stories from his comic novels The House of God and its sequel Mount Misery to guide his audience through facing our sufferings, large and small, in our daily lives, and learning to move through this with humor, and compassion for yourself and others. At the heart of this is a talk about the human spirit: in the face of suffering, the risk of isolation and the healing power of mutual connection—of walking through suffering with caring others, and helping others to learn to care. He will use examples from his most recent, nationally award-winning novel, The Spirit of the Place in addition to his Off Broadway award-winning hit play, Bill W. and Dr. Bob. He and his wife wrote the play about the relationship between the two men that led to the founding of Alcoholics anonymous in Akron Ohio in 1935—a health-care model of the healing power of good connection.