Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Month: April 2022

  • A tangled web: stealing newborns in twentieth-century Spain

    Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   Newborn infant. Photo by United States Children’s Bureau, 1940s. National Library of Medicine Images from the History of Medicine. The National Library of Medicine believes this item to be in the public domain. “We were Europe’s baby supermarket and babies were stolen for sixty years.”1 — Inés Madrigal   Twentieth-century…

  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s bondage of opium

    JMS Pearce Hull, England, United Kingdom   His grace, his God-knows-what: for Cupid’s cup With the first draught intoxicates apace, A quintessential laudanum or ‘black drop,’ This makes one drunk at once, …  Byron’s Don Juan (1823) Figure 1. Glass bottle inscribed “Laud:Liqv:Syd” (Sydenham’s laudanum) Figure 2. Kendal “Black Drop”   The opium or breadseed…

  • Stay inside: A toast to the frontline

    Tyler Beauchamp Rushay Amarath Andy Nguyen Augusta, Georgia, United States   The thumbnail of “Stay Inside | A Toast to the Frontline.” The music video has reached about 30,000 views at the time of publication. The COVID-19 pandemic introduced us to a danger we knew little of how to protect ourselves from. I had spent…

  • Book review: Civilization and the Culture of Science

    Arpan K. BanerjeeSolihull, United Kingdom The word civilization has both Latin and French origins: civitas (city) and civis (citizen) in Latin, and civilise (civilized) in French. In 1923, physician, philosopher, and theologian Albert Schweitzer wrote in The Philosophy of Civilization that “Civilization was essentially the sum total of all progress made by man in every…

  • The emergency room doctor

    Rob Ottesen Vero Beach, Florida, United States   Photo by RF._.studio on Pexels. If you were to ask me, I like to have a glazed doughnut before I go to sleep because the sugar in the doughnut inhibits my body’s production of orexin, a neuropeptide, thereby ensuring a peaceful slumber. I also like the taste of…

  • “Can you define the word ‘woman’?”

    Jayant Radhakrishnan Darien, Illinois, United States   Venus is considered to be the epitome of feminine beauty in the western world. Does it matter that she has no arms? Venus de Milo. Louvre Museum. Photo by Tupungato on Dreamstime. “The more you know the more you realize you don’t know.” — Aristotle (384 BCE-322 BCE)…

  • The flower lady

    Jonathan B. Ferrini La Jolla, California, United States   Photos by author. The Flores Family Flower Shop was founded by my grandfather as a roadside stand. It has now been a favorite flower shop in San Diego for the past fifty years. Six days a week at 4:30 in the morning, I drive the truck…

  • Movie review: Kings Row – Assassins in white coats

    Howard FischerUppsala, Sweden “Above all, I must not play God.”— Revised Hippocratic Oath2 Kings Row (1942) is a film set in a small American town in the early nineteen-hundreds. It features two doctors who are best avoided as well as a bright young man called Parris sent by his wealthy grandmother to study medicine in…

  • The pineal: seat of the soul

    JMS Pearce Hull, England, United Kingdom   Fig 1. Pineal gland The pineal for millennia had been a structure of mystery. In Ancient Egyptian culture, The Eye of Horus was a sign of prosperity and protection, often referred to as the third eye. In Ayurvedic physiology it corresponds to the sixth chakra—Ajna, located in the…

  • Miscarriage: a medical student in a rural clinic, Central America, 1977

    Paul Rousseau Charleston, South Carolina, United States   A small town in Honduras. Photo by kristin klein on Flickr. CC BY 2.0. Elena sits perched on a gurney with claret-stained thighs. She has just miscarried in the clinic’s lavatory. She inquires of the gender of the fetus, and hands twitching and heart flapping, I blurt,…