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Passion Rules in the (Fictional) ER

Psychiatrist Weighs In on Medical Romance Novels
WebMD Health News

Oct. 25, 2007 -- Move over, Grey's Anatomy. An esteemed medical journal is brimming with unbridled passions among fictional doctors.

The Lancet's Oct. 27 edition includes an Irish psychiatrist's review of 20 medical romance novels.

The psychiatrist is Brendan D. Kelly, MD, MRCPsych, of the adult psychiatry department at Ireland's University College Dublin.

He randomly chose and read 20 romance novels that took place in a medical setting, mostly in emergency rooms or in airborne medical squads.

All of the couples were heterosexual. The central male characters were all doctors; the women included 11 doctors and nine nurses.

"There was a marked preponderance of brilliant, tall, muscular male doctors with chiseled features, working emergency medicine; they were commonly of Mediterranean origin and had personal tragedies in their past," writes Kelly.

He adds that the female doctors and nurses in the books "tended to be skilled, beautiful, determined, but still compassionate."

The male and female characters "frequently neglected their personal lives to care better for their patients, many of whom had life-threatening illnesses from which they nonetheless managed to recover," Kelly observes.

Of course, those books are fiction. And of course, Kelly isn't taking them as fact.

Otherwise, doctors and nurses would need training to deal with the "apparent inevitability of uncontrolled passions in the context of emergency medicine, especially as practiced on aeroplanes," writes Kelly.

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