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The House of God’ is Samuel Shem’s debut novel, first published in 1978 following his medical internship at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, USA. Here he discusses with Prof Denis Noble some of the themes of the book, including the importance of compassion in medicine, and how recent research has shown that newborn babies are already ‘social animals’, which flies in the face of Freud’s stress on sex and aggression.

The interview was given before Samuel’s lecture in Balliol College, University of Oxford.

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Samuel Shem

Janet Surrey

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