Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Month: February 2017

  • Scarification: Harmful cultural practice or vehicle to higher being?

    Kenneth Felsenstein Bethesda, Maryland, United States Scarification is the act of “covering, disguising and transforming the body”1 by creating wounds in one’s own flesh in order to cause indelible markings. It is perhaps one of the most misunderstood body modification procedures done today, largely perceived in Western society as a tabooed and harmful cultural practice.2 Superficially…

  • Life at the table

    Isabel Azevedo Porto, Portugal   Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, 1412 – 1416 Herman, Paul, and Johan Limbourg Musée Condé, France In the days when human time was organized differently and every hour had its meaning, meals were community events, mostly family events, where people met to socialize as well as dine. Someone…

  • The unloved gut

    Fergus Shanahan Cork, Ireland   “My brain, it’s my second favorite organ” pronounced Woody Allen.1 For many, it is the seat of the soul, the source of creativity and much more, whereas the heart represents passion, courage, and character. Fondness for other organs relates to warmth and honesty in the eyes, clarity in the skin,…

  • The pulsilogium and the diagnosis of love sickness

    Donatella LippiGiuseppe MasciaLuigi PadelettiFlorence, Italy Doctors since time immemorial have felt the pulse of their patients, noting its regularity, frequency, strength, and breadth, at times using colorful expressions to variously describe it as “formicant” or “vermicular” (ant-like or worm-like),1 and diagnosing “love sickness” in maidens by the presence of the so-called pulsus amatorius. (Fig 1.)…

  • Seven reasons why nurses want to leave their job

    Victorina T. Malones Iloilo City, Philippines   Some years ago I wanted to work as the best hospital nurse I could possibly be. I worked hard to become a staff nurse. I passed the board exam, had a successful interview, and after months of gaining experience by volunteering, I was hired. After I got the…

  • Heartland down

    Stephanie Ezell Chicago, Illinois, United States   Saying that we see emptiness in the eyes of a mentally ill person is a means for the rest of us to be ok, to stand apart. There is nothing there, so we feel better. But if we allow ourselves to soften and be present for a second,…

  • The male nurse in literature

    Solomon PosenSydney, Australia Fictional nurses continue to be predominantly female. In a brilliant essay Fiedler1 makes the point that in literature the terms “Nurse” and “Woman” are almost synonymous. As a result, male nurses, who currently constitute between 6 and 8% of the nursing workforce in the USA,2 Canada3 and Australia4 are considered a paradox…

  • Medicine and culture: on becoming a nurse

    Shirley Stephenson Chicago, Illinois, United States   Photography by Mark Belokopytov There are things that make us uncomfortable, such as public speaking or taking a seat on an airplane as coats, bags, or limbs spill over the border of armrest. We are uncomfortable for a moment when we first sit very close to a stranger.…

  • I can take care of myself – if you teach me how!

    Nancy Burke   Rhiannon is five. She has rheumatoid arthritis. Every Monday she gets an injection of an anti-inflammatory drug, and she doesn’t like it! During her Christmas visit to see “Nana” (her nickname for me, her grandmother), there were three Mondays. Katy, Rhiannon’s mother, had requested that “Nana” give her the injections. It’s been…

  • Stella

    Mathew KinsellaBrowns Mills, New Jersey, United States One flew east, one flew westAnd one flew over the cuckoo’s nest– Ken Kesey The cacophony of egregious expletives coming from the crisis reception room astounds even the seasoned psychiatric staff working the hospital swing-shift. All spit and vinegar, the diminutive woman at the center of the staff’s…