I am not jerky enough to name which writers or pieces I am talking about, but I do want to outline the conflict I feel when saying this. On the one hand, the intention is good: the writer wants to illuminate an aspect of the life of a patient (or a provider) which has been overlooked in the empirical literature.
On the other hand, if such a piece is cliched, overwritten, or - most often - leads to a thuddingly obvious conclusion (suffering does not redeem; pain is bad; illness can be isolating; doctors can lack empathy), the intention can be undermined. But can we still take something away from the piece in that case to help inform our understanding of illness?
In other words: are we looking to be impressed as discerning readers, enriched as human beings, or both? Or should I leave my esthetic expectations aside if I want to enter into someone else's world of illness?
Note: This piece has been edited based on comments below and on Facebook. Previously, I had directed this post to "medical humanities" writing, but I was using this term in a narrow and unhelpful way.