One of the aims of both postgraduate and undergraduate medical education is to help doctors to think for themselves, or to have minds of their own, in the complex process of interpreting evidence and adapting it to fit individual patients. But phrases such as ‘thinking for oneself’ or ‘having a mind of one's own’ conceal an important ambiguity. The ambiguity is between the process of developing independence of mind and that of developing individuality of mind. Medical education overstresses independence of mind at the expense of individuality of mind. But both processes are necessary for personal and professional development. The humanities have a role to play in correcting the balance.