Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Month: July 2024

  • Geel, Belgium: 700 years of caring for mentally ill people

    Howard FischerUppsala, Sweden Geel, Belgium is a city of about 40,000 inhabitants, in the Flemish province of Antwerp. It contains a university, and a branch of the esteemed Catholic University of Louvain, and a pharmaceutical plant. Geel may be best known for its centuries-long history of providing care for mentally disturbed individuals. The origin of…

  • Void’s flame

    Xuchu LiBeijing, China In late autumn’s golden embrace,scarlet maple leaves softly caress you,a mild exhaustion sensed,a months-long struggle persists.The tumors burgeon and spread like violet flamesupon your withered, skeletal frame—a desolate scene, frail and lame.Each breath feeds its growth.Scalding sweat on your brow,defiant tears in your eyes, unable to dispel it.Yet you fight, through dawn…

  • Burial in modern Greece

    Howard FischerUppsala, Sweden While much is known about funeral customs in ancient Greece, the particulars of burial in modern Greece have received little outside attention. Today, one half of the population of Greece lives in the two largest cities, Athens and Thessaloniki. There is not enough space in big urban centers to conduct burials that…

  • Sushruta, the father of rhinoplasty

    Matthew TurnerHershey, Pennsylvania, United States From around 1000–800 BC, a golden age of medicine dawned in ancient India, where ayurveda, the “science of life,” flourished.1 At the heart of this revolution was the legendary physician Sushruta, whose writings in the famous Samhita describe surgeries from cataract removal to treatment of bladder stones, diseases including diabetes…

  • Mordecai B. Etziony: Canadian historian of medicine and ethicist

    Avi OhryTel Aviv, Israel Mordecai Etziony was born in 1904 and worked in the Department of Medicine at the Jewish General Hospital and Jewish Hospital of Hope, Montreal. He submitted his dissertation to McGill University in 1931 under the title “The problem of ’emotions’ with particular reference to the emotional life of the child.” He…

  • Dr. William Gilbert Grace (W.G.)

    JMS PearceHull, England By the time he qualified in medicine in 1879, William Gilbert Grace (1848–1915), known as “WG”, had established himself as the world’s greatest cricketer. Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack and the annals of cricket amply chronicle his career1 but are replete with boring statistics, which fail to do justice to his extraordinary, dazzling achievements…

  • Kuru, the laughing disease of New Guinea

    New Guinea is the second-largest island in the world that is not a continent (after Greenland). It is divided into the Republic of Papua-New Guinea in the east and a western area that belongs to Indonesia. In both parts, indigenous populations face significant health challenges because of poverty, parasitic diseases, and poor medical facilities. Of…

  • What would one prefer to say about Bartleby?

    Howard FischerUppsala, Sweden “Bartleby is the enigmatic personality par excellence.”1 Herman Melville (1819–1891) was a prolific American novelist and poet. He was born in New York City. Both of his grandfathers were officers in the Colonial Army during the American Revolution, one a colonel, the other a general. When his family had financial troubles, he…

  • Nicholas Cusanus

    Avi OhryTel Aviv, Israel Non-medical scientists and scholars often contribute substantially to medicine. Nicolaus Cusanus (1401–1464), also known as Nicholas of Cusa and Nikolaus Krebs von Kues, was a German cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, philosopher, jurist, mathematician, and astronomer. In Padua he earned a doctorate in canon law in 1423. He became a…

  • Dr. Mary Edwards Walker: A trailblazer for female surgeons  

    Shabnam ParsaLeshya BokkaLiam ButchartStony Brook, New York, United States Dr. Mary Edwards Walker (1832–1919) was the first female surgeon in the United States—a pioneering educator, clinician, and medical innovator.1 Her academic path was paved by her parents’ dedication to education. Vesta and Alva Walker established the first free school in Oswego, New York, where they…