I am not a doctor so I have had no occasion to read the Hippocratic Oath. But I strongly suspect that those who have read it, or who have made it the focus of their careers, would throw up at Restak's obtuse and egregious remarks. Of course, doctors are people, too, and as such, have some measure of compassion for the sick and dying, especially those dying from the ruthless and treacherous AIDS.
The Times has given AIDS a human face, i.e., the poignant story of Jeff Mullican's courageous fight for life (Part I, Dec. 30), and one wonders if Restak couldn't care less.
A doctor does more than simply mouth a few words when he or she enters medicine.
And yes, some doctors may indeed get depressed around patients with cancer, but what a ludicrous cop out for withholding treatment, as the author of the article would.
It is arrogantly suggested that "some patients arouse strongly negative reactions in a doctor . . . and should be treated elsewhere." For the mental and physical well being of all patients, those doctors should not be allowed to inflict themselves on anyone, anywhere, but should instead be doing quiet research somewhere.
I have little doubt that reluctant and hostile doctors are in a minority, and that Restak is their chief.
JOHN P. POSTON