Tag Archives: medicine and literature

Sylvia Plath: the tortured artist?

Kathleen Coggshall, MD University of California, San Francisco, United States The image of a chain-smoking, booze-addled writer is a common one, occurring so frequently in modern culture that one begins to wonder if depressed people find solace in creative endeavors, or if the soul-searching process of crafting a sonnet or composing a musical piece puts […]

Dr. Blockhead’s victory: up there, down here

Angela Belli, PhD St. John’s University, Queens, New York, United States The iconic image of the prizefighter raising his hands above his head in a gesture of victory is given life in Flannery O’Connor’s The Enduring Chill.1 He appears not as a heavyweight champion of the world but as a country doctor. The main character […]

Placebo effect or care effect? Four examples from the literary world

Pekka Louhiala, D.Med.Sci., PhD Hjelt Institute, University of Helsinki, Finland  Raimo Puustinen, MD, PhD, FT School of Medicine, University of Tampere, Finland It is common knowledge that patients may exhibit improvement following an encounter in which no specific drugs or effective medications were prescribed. Indeed, even fictional doctors have often been depicted as knowing that […]

Four short literary incisions (Or how I began to write things that did not let me sleep)

Catalina Florina Florescu Wagner College, Staten Island, New York, United States   In memoriam, to mom and dad   [Episode One: On Life and Even More Life] Carla hasn’t said a word since last Friday when her younger sister, Elvira, stopped talking. Elvira has been lying in bed, eyes almost shut all the time. If […]

Pediatric pishogues

C. Anthony Ryan, MB, MD, FRCPI Bridget Maher MB, MRCGP University College Cork, Ireland   Illustration by John Bauer Although superstitions abound in all societies, Irish tradition has an especially long and rich tradition of folk beliefs and superstitions. Thus, when a newborn infant was recently diagnosed with Klippel-Trenaunay-Weber syndrome,1 a triad of port-wine stain, […]