Family as a cure.

Citation metadata

Author: Divya Santhanam
Date: Nov. 21, 2022
From: CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal(Vol. 194, Issue 45)
Publisher: CMA Impact Inc.
Document Type: Viewpoint essay
Length: 1,115 words
Lexile Measure: 1090L

Document controls

Main content

Article Preview :

The phrase "ubuntu," which means "I am because we are," was championed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, as he led South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the late 1990s. It contrasts starkly with Western philosopher Rene Descartes' famous phrase, "I think, therefore I am."

"I am because we are" reflects that identity, happiness and well-being lie in collectiveness rather than individuality. It was this phrase I thought of as I listened to a patient, during my third-year clerkship family medicine rotation.

We sat in a small windowless clinic room, sheltered from the frigid December air. The patient across from me was a refugee from Darfur, Sudan. At the age of 11, civil war separated Abdullah from his family. He then fled to Indonesia and lived there for several years in a large community of Afghan and Somali refugees. At the age of 18, he moved to Canada and was finally able to locate his family through the Red Cross with assistance from the social worker at the intercommunity health centre. He learned that his mother was ill after having had a stroke, one of his brothers had fled to Libya and the remainder of his family was still living in a refugee camp in the Darfur region where instability continues to this day.

"So, what brings you in today, Abdullah?"

Abdullah shared that his mood was extremely low. When I asked why, he looked at the small space of flooring between his shoes, "Because I am separated from my family, I am always sad."

In medical school, we are taught the mnemonic SIGECAPS, when screening for depression. "G" in the acronym stands for feelings of guilt.

"Do you...

Source Citation

Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|A726823130