The conversation of this hour always rises as an early experience that imprinted everything that came after at On Being. Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen is one of the wise people in our world. She trained as a doctor in a generation that understood death as a failure of medicine. Yet her lifelong struggle with Crohn’s Disease and her pioneering work with cancer patients shaped her view of life. Becoming whole, she teaches, is not about eradicating our wounds and weaknesses; rather, the way we deal with losses, large and small, shapes our capacity to be present to all of our experiences. That arresting notion, and the distinction Rachel Naomi Remen draws between curing and healing, makes this an urgent offering to our world — of healing we are all called to receive and to give.
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Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen is founder of the Remen Institute for the Study of Health and Illness and a Professor of Family Medicine at the Boonshoft School of Medicine at Wright State University in Ohio. She’s also a Clinical Professor Emeritus of Family and Community Medicine at UC San Francisco School of Medicine, that’s where she developed “The Healer’s Art,” her course for medical students. Her beloved books include Kitchen Table Wisdom and My Grandfather’s Blessings. And in September, 2022, she will publish her first book for children: The Birthday of the World: A Story about Finding Light in Everyone and Everything.
This interview is edited and produced with music and other features in the On Being episode "Rachel Naomi Remen — How We Live With Loss." Find the transcript for that show at onbeing.org.
This show originally aired in August 2005.