Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Month: August 2022

  • To my colleagues in Ukraine whom I saw on TV

    Barry Meisenberg Baltimore, Maryland, United States   Limestone fragments of the “Vulture Stele” now in the Louvre Museum, Paris, France. A stele is a stone pillar erected as a monument to some great event. This stele was created circa 2500 BC to celebrate the victory of King Eannatum of Lagash over Ush, king of Umma.…

  • India’s oldest medical schools

    Arpan K. BanerjeeSolihull, United Kingdom 15 August 2022 marked the 75th anniversary of Indian independence from British rule. Since independence, the Indian medical diaspora has successfully settled in countries around the world and contributed greatly to their health care systems. Outside India, few are familiar with the history of modern Indian medicine. India was long…

  • The Citadel and the Dilemma: Medicine corrupted

    Simon WeinPetach Tikvah, Israel Ethical behaviour of doctors is a timeless issue. A recent television investigation in Australia looked at legal but hardly ethical behaviour of doctors performing plastic surgery.1 Two books, a novel and a play written a century ago, remind us that problems with medical ethics are not new under the sun. A.J.…

  • Leprosy and armadillos: Handle with care

    Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   A nine-banded armadillo in the Green Swamp, central Florida. Photo by Tomfriedel (BirdPhotos.com), June 27, 2008, on Wikimedia. CC BY 3.0. Leprosy (Hansen’s disease) is a chronic, disfiguring, and handicapping infectious disease. It was known in the ancient world, and evidence of the disease has been found from 2000 B.C.1…

  • John Bostock and hay fever

    JMS Pearce Hull, England   Fig 1. Bostock’s paper to Medico-Chirurgical Transactions of London, 1819. Before the 1800s, hay fever, now estimated as affecting 5–10% of Western populations, was not widely recognized by physicians. James MacCulloch MD FRS, a doctor and geologist, in 1828 was the first to use the term hay fever, which he…

  • Book review: How the Mind Changed: A Human History of Our Evolving Brain

    Arpan K. Banerjee Solihull, United Kingdom   Cover of How the Mind Changed: A Human History of Our Evolving Brain by Joseph Jebelli. The human brain has long been a source of wonder and a fascinating subject for study. Philosophers, scientists, biologists, psychologists, anthropologists, and medical scholars have spent lifetimes studying the brain and how…

  • Chinese footbinding: A millennium of mutilation

    Howard FischerUppsala, Sweden “Foot binding is the most incendiary and least controversial subject in modern Chinese history.”1– Dorothy Ko, professor of History and Women’s Studies, Barnard College Foot binding was practiced in China from the tenth century through most of the twentieth century. It involved breaking the bones and tightly binding the feet of young…

  • “Phossy jaw”: an industrial horror story

    Howard FischerUppsala, Sweden “The greatest tragedy in the whole story of occupational diseases.”1– Donald Hunter, M.D. (1898–1978) The development of cheap, reliable, and reasonably safe matches became possible with the addition of white phosphorus (P4O10) to the match head mixture. The first factory to use white phosphorus (also called “yellow phosphorus”) in match manufacturing opened…

  • Suicide: always a tragedy?

    JMS PearceHull, England The tragedy of suicide is well expressed in “The romantic suicide: Karoline von Günderrode” by Nicolás Roberto Robles.1 We all try hard to understand this act. Self-destructive urges are an ubiquitous but often ignored or suppressed aspect of all human life. But what makes a person take their own life is often…

  • Isaac Bashevis Singer describes koro

    Howard FischerUppsala, Sweden “When I was a little boy, they called me a liar, but now that I am grown up, they call me a writer.”– Isaac Bashevis Singer I. B. Singer (1903–1991) was born in Warsaw, Poland. He lived there and also in rural Poland during the First World War. In 1935 he immigrated…