Surviving Arrogance: How A Patient Saved The Soul of A Surgeon

By S. David Nathanson MD
Regular price $15.00

This memoir shows how an arrogant surgeon, whose worldview was entirely dependent upon scientific dogma, was startled into a new way of thinking, a new way of understanding himself, his patients, and the world, and how he became grateful, more human, more compassionate and more creative, enhancing his ability to heal patients with potentially lethal cancers and to use his creative research thoughts to introduce new ideas into his profession. The key to his transformation was provided by a young woman, dying of a rare abdominal tumor, but who miraculously survived after aggressive Western-style treatment. She believed the most important part of her treatment and recovery was the mindset she developed from alternative non-medical treatments, and he, initially skeptical of her beliefs, discovered truths that his medical training had not taught him.

The author hopes that readers will see how modern medicine can and should incorporate empathy from doctors for their patients and a belief that they are not superior, despite their more advanced education.

About the Author

S. David Nathanson is an award-winning academic surgical oncologist who loves to heal patients, and to teach medical students and residents in surgical training, and who practices at the world-renowned Henry Ford Health System in Michigan. He is the author of over two hundred research articles, eight book chapters, one book, and loves to tell stories. When not operating he loves taking photographs, often landscapes or portraits, many of which are printed and framed and hung in his home and in the Breast Care Center he runs at West Bloomfield Hospital, and in the surgery department at Henry Ford Hospital. He reads fiction and non-fiction in his spare time, concentrating on theological, philosophical, spiritual and historical themes. He loves music, particularly of the Baroque era. He loves arthouse movies and well-constructed streaming television series. His research in sentinel node biopsy is quoted world-wide and he is actively involved in translational research, focusing mainly on breast cancer and melanoma.


“A surgeon's awakening to the humility and connection required of the practice of medicine, and all the gifts made available to him and his patients upon opening those very human channels. Healing indeed comes in many forms and Dr. Nathanson very generously takes us on his journey in an engaging and insightful manner.”  -Rana Lee Adawi Awdish, MD FCCP Medical Director, Care Experience Henry Ford Health System; author of In Shock: My Journey from Death to Recovery and the Redemptive Power of Hope

“This inspired memoir vividly shows the personal transformation of a surgeon focused on cure of surgical diseases to one focused on healing of his patients and of himself. Through his discussions with a patient he saved from a near-fatal cancer who subsequently recovered through her being at the Esalen Institute, he experiences first-hand wondrous epiphanies sparking his own transformation of consciousness. Both the patient and the doctor show us in Joseph Campbell’s words ‘at the darkest moment comes the light.’” -Francis Lu, MD, Kim Professor in Cultural Psychiatry, Emeritus, University of California, Davis

“Dr. Nathanson’s deconstruction of the making of a surgeon is a compelling journey through what is right, and also very wrong about classical medical education and the doctor-patient relationship. The book is considerably more than a medical memoir; reflections of struggles, failures, triumphs, tragedies and growth transcend healthcare. The title of “surviving arrogance” accurately reflects unfortunate aspects of many traditional medical personalities, however, the underlying journey to empathy that this doctor has completed suggests a road for all of us to be on with more determination.” -Scott Dulchavsky, MD, PhD, Chairman, Department of Surgery, Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, Michigan

"Confessions of an outstanding surgeon. Memoirs, written with self-effacing honesty. Candid snapshots from behind the scene of medical practice. Dr. David Nathanson’s book is all that and more – much more: It traces a human heart’s journey from arrogance to humility – a humility that has nothing in common with humiliation, but marks the highest achievement of selfless love. Thrilling. Heart-wrenching. Highly inspiring."  -Brother David Steindl-Rast OSB. Developer of; Benedictine Monk.

Published: 2020
Page Count: 170