History Essays | Hektoen International

Episteme and translation in an annotated copy of the Canon of Medicine by Ibn Sīnā (Avicenna)

Sang Ik Song & Adam S. Komorowski University of Limerick, Ireland (Spring 2017)   Processes of Translation in European Medieval Medical Episteme Avicenna’s Canon of Medicine, pg 275: Hooper has underlined “nentaphyllon” and re-written the mis-transcription on the margin in Arabic. The episteme and movement of knowledge of medieval medicine in Europe is a syncretic, […]

The divine leaf: physick and the cause for physick

Lynn Veach Sadler Burlington, NC (Spring 2017)   The photograph is of John White’s 1585 watercolor of a Secotan mother and child now in the British Library. Columbus is believed to have rebuked his crew for sharing the Indians’ “drinking” of the smoke of tobacco through toboca/tobaga pipes and chewing its dried leaves. He was among […]

The Friends’ Ambulance Unit South Bank Clinic: the forgotten valor of the pacifists who stayed beyond the fight

Christopher Magoon Philadelphia, PA (Spring 2017)   FAU volunteer labels unit truck Unit leader, Jack Jones, sketches scene of locals in common room For many of the non-Chinese volunteers who aided China during the tumult of 1930s and 40s, a notoriety that borders on mythology remains to this day. Perhaps most famously, an American group […]

Pantaleon or Pantaleimon– A most noble physician

Maria Alexandra Monteiro Porto, Portugal (Spring 2017)   As information about the life of Saint Pantaleon is entangled with tradition, it difficult to distinguish myth from facts. Nevertheless, according to several sources, Pantaleon was born c.AD 275, son of the rich pagan Eustorgius of Nicomedia. His name means “a lion in everything”. Later he would […]

The Lunar Society legacy

J.M.S. Pearce Hull Royal Infirmary, United Kingdom (Summer 2014)   Mention “Lunar Society“ and most academics will stare vacantly, despite the society’s fame during the eighteenth century. Erasmus Darwin (1731–1802), grandfather of Charles Darwin, was a founder of the Lunar Society in Birmingham (c. 1765- c.1800), which counted several physicians in its numbers. The original […]

Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s last illness

Armando Susmano Rush Medical College, Chicago, Illinois, United States (Spring 2012)   Yalta summit, February 1945 From left to right: Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, and Joseph Stalin On April 12, 1945, the country was shocked to learn their recently-elected fourth-term president was dead. Yet even after FDR’s death, Roosevelt’s personal physician, Admiral Dr. Ross McIntire […]

Looking back 175 years

Biji T. Kurien University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, United States (Spring 2015)     Louis Pasteur in his laboratory, 1885 Albert Edelfelt It was a time when surgery was performed in the raw. Obviously a horrendous nightmare for both patient and surgeon, it was performed only in do-or-die situations. The odor of pus in […]

Historical reflections on cause, responsibility and blame in medicine

William R. Albury University of New England, Armidale, Australia (Fall 2010) Debauchery and disease In the early years of British settlement in Australia the colonial authorities regarded drunkenness as one of the major evils of the day. Their preoccupation with this social problem was mirrored by the concern of the colony’s medical men with drunkenness […]

From changelings to extraterrestrials: depictions of autism in popular culture

William R. Albury University of New England, Armidale, Australia (Fall 2011)   While evolution of the modern concept of autism dates from the middle of the twentieth century, evidence suggests that behaviors which are now considered autistic have occurred in the human species since its prehistoric origins (Spikins). The cause of autism is unknown, and […]

Illuminating the third millennium with flashes of experience from the 20th century

William H. Wehrmacher Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Maywood, Illinois, United States (Spring 2014)    Photography and collage by Tom Magliery As we vigorously plunge into our third millennium, we may gain some guidance by carefully examining the pathway experienced during the 20th century. During the first half of the 20th century, civilization […]