Ease her heart

November 3, 2012 — 38 Comments

MACBETH: How does your patient, doctor?

DOCTOR: Not so sick, my lord, as she is troubled with thick-coming fancies that keep her from rest.

MACBETH: Cure her of that! Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased, pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow, raze out the written troubles of the brain, and with some sweet oblivious antidote cleanse the stuffed bosom of that perilous stuff which weighs upon her heart.

DOCTOR: Therein the patient must minister to himself.” 


MACBETH: How does your patient, doctor?

DOCTOR: She is not sick, my lord, but she is troubled with endless visions that keep her from sleeping.

MACBETH: Cure her of that! Can’t you treat a diseased mind? Take away her memory of sorrow? Use some drug to erase the troubling thoughts from her brain and ease her heart?

DOCTOR: For that kind of relief, the patient must heal herself...

William Shakespeare
(MACBETH: Act 5, scenes 3-4)

38 responses to Ease her heart


    Some of your griefs you’ve cured – the worst you have survived. – but oh what heartache you endure – for the troubles that never arrive.. An excerpt from a book from 1920 that I purchased at a yard sale in 1973, called “Take a second look at yourself”.
    I’ve lended it out a couple times and now I can’t seem to find it. But it’s in my mind..


    Why have the doctors of today taken over this realm, that the doctor in Macbeth rightly pointed out does not belong in medicine? Tranquillisers do not take away heartaches any more than imagination does. The SSRI group of antidepressants (the most widely prescribed today) has not been shown to be better than placebo except in very severe depression. Yet there is a conspiracy between doctors and patients to pretend that there is a pill for every ill. I am often confronted by an unhappy patient asking for medication to cure their unhappiness, when their real trouble is that they will not either ‘suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or … take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing, end them’ (Shakespeare, Hamlet).

    Epictetus pointed out that there are two kinds of problem: ones you can do something about, and ones you can’t. The answer to the first kind is, take the next step, and to the second, accept. In neither case is worry or fretting useful.

    Please don’t misunderstand. There are seriously mentally ill people and they do need medication. But the idea that medicine should have an answer for every difficulty in life is mistaken.

    Markssong (above) has it right. Many pains are imaginary. The cure for those is to live as much as possible in the present.

    What do I do when confronted by an unhappy patient expecting me to prescribe their problem away? First of all my heart sinks, since I know I have nothing for them.Then I listen to the problem, my mind reasonably blank. Out of this often pops something sensible to say, that I take, not from the textbooks of pharmacology, but from my own being and the knowledge of my own past mistakes, idiocies and successes.

    Of course, Vanessa, as evidenced by your now famous blog entry, you know this.


      “My heart sinks, since I know I have nothing for them”
      Which is why I love the last line of this beautiful scene: “For that kind of relief, the patient must heal herself”
      There is a type of brokenness which no pill can ease, but only the standing and the fighting of the patient themselves….


        Of course. It would be like the saying, “Physician heal thyself”, only now the patient is the physician. And there are many times the patient must wear the stethoscope and administer the pills, bitter or not.

        Sometimes too, it isn’t physical pills that are needed. Thank you, Van for liking ReFlections.


        Thank you for reminding us to rise again to chase down hope and healing. I am just beginning my journey to call people to this and share how I have experienced healing. I will learn a lot from you and your open sharing and thoughtful perspective. Keep on keeping on!


        Forgiveness is the key to healing ourselves and others – we have the choice to try; though it is not easy and can take a long time.
        Depression can have medical causes of course, and that may be hard for a physiciamn to treat – when we have nothing else to give; then giving our time to listen to the afflicted person can help them a lot.


      Your writing and corresponding references to Shakespeare and Hamlet is profound. I am reading “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle and what you wrote reinforced my reading/learning. Thank you for your great insight. It is appreciated.


    Beautiful post and amazing how true then as it is now!!!!!


    After my husband died, my hands began to hurt, badly. I went to our general practitioner who had been trying to help my husband received treatment so the doc knew me. His nurse asked me why I was there? Did I need to talk to someone? Uh noooo. She hugged me. Ok…my hands hurt my heart is broken not the same thing. Doctor came in and told me, not asking why I was there, told me that there was no pill, nothing he could give me that would help this grief. Uh I get that, what about my hands though? There is a type of broeknness which no pill can ease…the doctor knew it and wasn’t afraid to tell me. I wonder what the world would be like if more doctors were just honest with their patients and told them, hey some of this healing is on you! YOU have to do some work there is no magic pill out there.


    Most depressed people can’t cure themselves, they need help. When i was chronically depressed, i was able to get over it by reading Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, Joel Osteen and others that speak about positive thinking and faith. Meds do help, though, some need them. It is better to take meds than become so depressed one can’t get out of bed. Now I blog ideas that I find in my reading that make people happy and give them hope.


    “To say that it took a while to understand the beauty of just letting go is the understatement of the century, it has taken my entire life, and I’m only half way there” …

    We can only heal when we let go of all the things that have hurt us, and I totally love and agree with the comment that “the patient must heal hersef”. We have become so used to instant gratification and we have forgotten that the things worth having in life take dedication and work. You can’t take a pill, or get a quick fix for healing past hurts, but You can decide that You want to move past them and heal,

    The scars may be there, but they are evidence of wounds that have healed and made You a stronger person, better and not bitter.

    Thank You for such a thought provoking and beautiful post.


    Deep, beautiful, awesome, and oh-so-hard to do.


    Ida never guessed lol 🙂


    Oh, how true… if only… I think I need to put this in my blog for reference. 😉


    For that kind of relief, the patient must heal herself…
    Extraordinary words! I like it.


    True words are never out of date.


    Best of all, I’ve found that what I can’t heal myself, God can!………happy that my post “It’s Time to Stop Running” was a blessing to you.


    It’s a beautiful scene you’ve captured here. So poetic and yet fully loaded. Some truths never die. Some problems have been around for awhile. In an earlier reply you wrote, “There is a type of brokenness which no pill can ease.” Life is very raw, isn’t it? There is no easy button or special pill, but it must be lived and endured. It takes courage and perseverance. It seems apparent to me that this world is broken and has fallen from its true design. I’d love to hear your thoughts.


    Reblogged this on My Spirit Journey and commented:


    Reblogged this on Student living and me. and commented:
    Just beautiful. And I also feel that this is a journey I have to do alone, however much it hurts. There is no cure, except a change in understanding on my part, and time…


    Reblogged this, because I just thought it was beautiful, and I feel like there are things we can only do alone, no matter how much it hurts. There has to be a change in understanding, of feeling on our part, for the healing process to begin, and the only thing required, is time.


    Thank you for posting this. I needed to read that


    Thanks for stopping by…..
    love this post and your blog….Really like what Cornelius Agrippa said about tranquilizers not taking away heartaches….One of my biggest fears with depression is that I will need to take pills……………..and for me you have just confirmed what I know and believe in my heart…that they are not for me…



    Reblogged this on Run Tonto Run…… and commented:
    simply wonderful and the comments too…lifts your heart and your spirits:)


    Reblogged this on danscape and commented:
    From my chaste friend, a post that speaks to me ….. as it should to all those with troubled souls and minds.


    Reblogged this on As Told By Erin and commented:
    Shakespeare was some kind of genius , all these years later and his words still reign true and can still teach us a valuable lesson. ” For that kind of relief, the patient must heal herself..”


    Words do cure, Meds cure too.
    Short, vivid expression of taught, I love your write up.
    For depression, regret and worries,
    Positive thinking and visionary work matters a lot.

    Why not com feel my world, I know you will like it


    I got the healing ‘word’


    “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow; for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.
    Let the day’s own troubles be sufficient for the day.”
    Quote from Teresa of Avila – I find it sometimes helps when the heart gets heavy.

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