The complaints that patients bring to their doctors often have roots in social issues that involve work, family life, gender roles and sexuality, aging, substance use, or other problems of non-medical origin. In this book, Howard Waitzkin examines interactions between patients and doctors to show how physicians' focus on physical complaints often fails to address patients' underlying concerns and also reinforces the societal problems that cause or aggravate these maladies. A progressive doctor-patient relationship, Waitzkin argues, fosters social change.; Waitzkin provides an analysis of medical encounters, applying perspectives from structuralism, post-structuralism, and critical literary theory to transcripts of recorded conversations between doctors and patients. He demonstrates how doctors unintentionally maintain dominance in their dealings with patients, encourage conforming social behaviour and attitudes, and marginalise patients' concerns with social problems.; Waitzkin suggests ways to restructure the manner in which patients and doctors communicate with each other. Physicians and patients, for example, should work together to demystify medical discourse, should refrain from medicalising social problems and should be prepared to call on advocacy organisations seeking to change the social conditions that create personal distress.