Bioethics Blogs

In Memoriam: John A. Balint, MD

After over three decades of dedicated service to Albany
Medical College as a researcher, practicing physician, administrator, and
mentor, when some people might consider retirement, John Balint in the early
1990’s was just beginning to redefine his career. It was during this time that
I first met John at the University of Chicago, Center for Clinical Medical
Ethics, when we were both members of the 1993-1994 Fellowship class. I was
privileged to learn about his amazing life up to that point, but what seemed
more important at that time, were his high hopes for the future.

John sought out this fellowship opportunity to prepare
himself to lead the new Center for Medical Ethics which would be charged with
teaching a new course that was being created in the curriculum reform process
called Health, Care, and Society (HCS). To say John was excited about the new
direction of his life was an understatement. As one of the leaders of this
four-year longitudinal course, John was now able to focus on his deepest
passion in medicine: the physician-patient relationship and the elements of
good doctoring.

Of course I know now that John had been preparing for his
new role from the beginning of his life. He often said his interest in the
physician-patient relationship was passed along to him from his father, Michael
Balint, the prominent physician-psychoanalyst and early thought leader on this
topic. As a small boy growing up in Budapest, Hungary, John told me the story
of joining his dad on a trip to Vienna to visit Sigmund Freud, where John
played under Freud’s desk while the two men talked about their patients.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.