Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Month: July 2018

  • Starvation as metaphor

    Michael Shulman  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States   “Boy and Girl at Cahera” (1847) Image of the Great Famine for middle-class readers of London Illustrated News.  The mystery of Food Increased till I abjured it And dine without Like God — Emily Dickinson Susan Sontag’s 1978 essay Illness as Metaphor,1 published in serial form in The…

  • The elimination game

    Kelley Yuan Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA   Anorexia nervosa. Nouvelle Iconographie de la Salpêtrière. “Un cas d’anorexie hysterique” 1900. Xylophone ribs and sunken cheeks. A body desperate for food paired with a mind determined to starve. Here lies anorexia nervosa’s cruel paradox, of a body betrayed and a brain allowing it to waste away. The protest…

  • The morning ritual

    Peter H. Berczeller Dordogne, France   Years ago, I heard the adage: “When you get up in the morning, and you don’t see your name in the Times obituaries, you’re good for another day.” I was young then, with no understanding of the seriousness beneath this seemingly witty remark. As a medicine resident, I was no…

  • Negotiation

    Jack Riggs Morgantown, West Virginia, USA   Kuwaiti – U.S. military medical cooperation. Author is fourth individual from left in back row. “We appreciate what you Americans have done for us in the past. But we will not allow you to come into our hospital uniformed and armed.” It was their country, their hospital, and…

  • Self and the Phenomenon of Life: A Biologist Examines Life from Molecules to Humanity

    Ramon Lim Iowa City, Iowa, United States   Man as conceived by DaVinci. Since an early age, I have often wondered who we are (individually as well as a species) and what might be our place in the universe. I believe that the ultimate goal of science, apart from its utilitarian role, is to help…

  • Gluttony: rise, fall, and resurgence of a capital sin

    F. Gonzalez-Crussi Chicago, Illinois, United States     Figure 1. The emblem of gluttony as a woman with protruding belly, carrying wine, and accompanied by a pig. Left: Georg Pencz (1500-1550). Right: Jacques Callot (1592-1635). The notion of gluttony (gula in Latin, meaning throat, gullet) was born among the Desert Fathers. These were hermits who…

  • “Our daily bread” – the scourge of pellagra

    Meera Ladwa London, England, United Kingdom   “Our Daily Bread” (“Panem nostrum quotidianum”) Giuseppe Mentessi (1894-95), oil on canvas, Museo dell’Ottocento, Gallerie d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Ferrara. In the northern Italian town of Ferrara hangs a little-known painting by Giuseppe Mentessi (1857-1931). Surrounded by a field of maize, a woman carries her exhausted child…

  • Two feasts of celebration: Hieronymous Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights and Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party

    Wilson F. Engel, III Gilbert, Arizona, USA   Judy Chicago, Detail of ceramic representations of body parts on dinner plates from, The Dinner Party, Installation 1970s. Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Brooklyn Museum, New York The Dinner Party, Judy Chicago’s now-famous mixed-media installation in the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at…

  • Dr. John Wall and Royal Worcester porcelain

    JMS Pearce Hull, England, United Kingdom   Figure 1. Dr. John Wall At first thought, the making of pots, china and porcelain would seem remote from the practice of Medicine. But one notable, exceptional man was accomplished and original in both. The polymath, Dr John Wall (1708 – 1776) of Worcester, though far from deserting…

  • Hope

    Evgeniya Larionova Charlestown, Massachusetts, United States    Photography by Michael Dykstra She, brought in by ambulance, that winter day The tiny snowflakes peacefully falling their blind way Broken, betrayed; Fresh track marks on her arms… “Will I never get saved from doing self-harm?” From the abyss of hell she never felt kindness She left AMA… How…