Book Review: Compartments

In Compartments: How the brightest, best trained, and most caring people can make judgements that are completely and utterly wrong (Amazon affiliate link) Dr. Steven Feldman writes about how our vantage or perspective shapes how we see the world. Using examples from his career as a dermatologist and research Dr. Feldman writes about:

  1. There are things we don’t see
  2. There are things we see that we should not trust
  3. Context affects our perceptions

Often times the true cause of a problem eludes us because of our point of view. As a medical provider and an educator I especially enjoyed how Dr. Feldman described “Things We Do Not See” and “Things We See That are Not Representative.”

Those principles reminded me about perceptions that form about:

  • Different methods of EMS/911 response (fire department vs. private vs. third service or career vs. volunteer)
  • Care provided at “skilled” nursing facilities (quotes show the skeptical view from my compartment)
  • Effort of other members of the emergency healthcare team – from the 911 call taker/dispatcher to the health unit coordinator – to care for people that are sick and injure

Compartments is a short book and a quick read. Many of the key points are made several times without adding depth to my understanding of the principles or how to apply to my work. Also Dr. Feldman applies the three principles to the intractable problems in the Middle East. This is partly problematic since much of his writing was done in 2008 and the events of the subsequent years have mostly worsened the problems. Although the “Arab Spring” is a great example of Dr. Feldman’s belief that most people have the same basic and decent needs – to support their family, to contribute to their community, and make choices about their future.

Note: I was given a copy of Compartments by the book’s publicist.

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