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I should explain that, although I have been a doctor all my working life, that
wasn’t my original intention. Before changing to medicine, I had been training for the
priesthood in the Catholic Church. It was a training I took seriously, naturally, until the
awful day when I realised I had lost my faith. Or perhaps I simply realised that in fact I had
never had faith, not the sort that a priest needs at any rate. The whole thing seemed to be
a set of meaningless rituals. Of course, our whole lives are ruled by rituals of one sort or
another, but these were the sort that it was impossible to accept without living a life of lies.
Worse still, without living the same lies on behalf of other people. Don’t misunderstand, I
have the deepest respect for truly religious characters and I can see a deep need for
some sort of faith. It simply wasn’t for me, that’s all. I tried hard to overcome my doubts,
but failed. It was a traumatic time for me and my parents. They, I know, were bitterly
disappointed, although they never showed it, neither by word nor deed. Since that time, I
have never entered a church, even getting married in a registry office, so deeply did the
experience scar. I believed then, rightly or wrongly, that if a man was to do a thing, it
should be done one hundred percent. Either I was wholly part of the church or I was
completely out. Now, I do not know what to believe.
After searching around for a while, I turned to medicine, thinking that if I
couldn’t cure men’s souls, I could at least help to cure their bodies. I considered that if
science didn’t always have the answers, it could provide a foundation from which I could
work and build up a new way of life with new thinking patterns. It was during my medical
studies that I met the young woman who was later to become my wife. There were
difficulties during the first years of our marriage, largely because of the effects of my
earlier training, but she was the very epitome of patience and understanding. I willingly
pay tribute to the woman who helped me through those difficulties to become the man I
am today.
One of the difficulties arose from our only child, a daughter we both loved
deeply. When she died of cancer while still quite young, my despair went deeper than the
love I bore for her. It became clear that not only could I not cure souls; there were strong
limits on my ability to cure bodies as well. Naturally I had always been well aware of the