Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Month: April 2017

  • Beyond medicine

    Jessica Tang Chicago, Illinois, United States   Surgeons in action I remember staring intently at the doctor as he presented two options: surgery or do nothing. Surgery could not promise drastic improvement and even came with the risk of paralysis or death. Doing nothing meant an ominous future of moving onward until something traumatic occurred.…

  • Alcohol and the art of David Teniers Jr.

    Mirjana Stojkovic-Ivkovic Belgrade, Serbia   Fig 1. Smokers and drinkers, Museo del Prado, Madrid (this picture makes fun of human frailties, stupidity and vices.) David Teniers the Younger (1610–1690) was one of the most prolific and versatile Flemish artists. About 2000 pictures have been attributed to him, including replicas and copies, and at least 900…

  • Poetry in medicine

    Debbie McCullis Greenwood Village, CO, USA   “El Corazon.” Courtesy of Warner K. Varno.[iii] Poetry is the most ancient of medicines. From the earliest physicians in Egypt to the bustling modern hospital’s wide range of health professionals, poetry has long been part of healing. From the chants and charms that the ancients considered cures for…

  • The King’s-Evil and sensory experience in Richard Wiseman’s Severall Chirurgicall Treatises

    Adam KomorowskiSang SongIreland Throughout many centuries, the monarchs of England maintained as royal prerogative the ability to heal the sick by virtue of their miraculous touch alone. William of Malmesbury (c.1090-c.1143) first described the use of the thaumaturgic touch by King Edward the Confessor (1003-66), who healed a woman afflicted with scrofula.1,2,3 While this power…

  • Torsten Almén 1931-2016. Inventor of non-ionized contrast media.

    Frank Wollheim  Lund, Sweden   Fig 1. Torsten Almén at work with his oboe. There were no signs of genius to impress us in any of the medical students at Lund in the fall of 1950, and certainly not in Torsten Almen. He seemed rather ordinary, somewhat shy and stuttering; and it was a well…

  • Empathy for medical students

    David Jeffrey Edinburgh, United Kingdom   Medical students check blood glucose on a patient. On a windy corner of Drummond Street, not far from Rutherford’s pub in Edinburgh, there is a small bronze plaque with these words: “And when I remembered all that I hoped and feared as I pickled about Rutherford’s in the rain…

  • Reflections on early 20th century tuberculosis: a juxtaposition of Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain and Edward L. Trudeau’s Autobiography

    Gregory Rutecki Cleveland, Ohio, United States   Abandoned German TB sanitarium The early twentieth century was an auspicious time for medicine. Physicians of the era would be the first to transform the mysterious “captain of all these men of death” into a living, “breathing” bacillus named Mycobacterium tuberculosis.1 As a corollary of the fundamental discovery,…

  • Listening to the patient

    Marina Maffoni Francesca Dionigi Pavia, Italy   Death and Life by Gustav Klimt Alex was a smart thirty-nine year old man with drug-resistant lymphoma. In four years he had undergone two unsuccessful bone marrow transplants. That is all my senior psychologist tutor and I were told by the referring clinician, except that the patient himself…

  • PEACH: Providing end of life care for the homeless

    Lea Mendes Lisbon, Portugal   Retired homeless fisherman (Photo by Pedro Ribeiro Simões, Wikipedia Commons) Homeless people make up a Fourth World population in industrialized as well as developing countries. Homelessness creates a higher risk for disease and premature death. An innovative Canadian program provides care for those who are homeless at the end of life,…

  • On being disabled

    Yeji Lee Toronto, Canada   Richard Whitehead (Centre) crosses the finish line in the London 2012 Paralympic Games on September 1, 2012. AFP photo / Adrian Dennis In the past the disabled have often been isolated from the rest of society by structural, physical, and emotional means, considered irrelevant or even detrimental to the development and…