Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Year: 2024

  • Holden Caulfield’s coughing conundrum: A medical perspective

    Anthony GulottaBethesda, Maryland, United States J.D. Salinger’s 1951 novel, The Catcher in the Rye, captivates readers with the story of Holden Caulfield, a disillusioned teenager. Was Holden’s constant coughing due to pulmonary tuberculosis (TB), as he claims, or some other illness? His own words paint a bleak picture. He mentions being “dead tired,” harboring a…

  • Managing loss and emotional turmoil through poetry

    Maria ShopovaDublin, Ireland Loss is a universal human experience that spans borders and cultures. Patients, facing death, may struggle with existential questions and anxiety due to the loss of health. Families bear the agony of watching a loved one deteriorate and die, and then enter a period of grieving. And medical professionals, who are not…

  • Ship fever: A malignant disease of a most dangerous kind?

    Richard de GrijsSydney, Australia During the Age of Sail, “road,” “workhouse,” “hospital,” “army,” “camp,” “emigrant,” “jail”/“gaol,” and “ship” were routine noun adjuncts pertaining to the deadly fevers frequently occurring in overcrowded spaces in cold weather. Although “fever” diagnoses were common, most such instances in ships’ surgeons’ journals related to typhus or typhoid fevers—until 1869, they…

  • Book review: Saving Freud: The Rescuers Who Brought Him to Freedom

    Howard FischerUppsala, Sweden “A nation that produced Goethe could not possibly go to the bad.”– Sigmund Freud, 1930 In March 1938, Austria became part of the Greater German Reich. Nazi antisemitism and the exclusion of Jews from society began at once. Dr. Sigmund Freud (1856–1939), the creator of psychoanalysis, could no longer deny what was…

  • Robert Remak remembered

    JMS PearceHull, England This article is based in part on an older publication, Lancet 1996.2 The name of Robert Remak (1815–1865) is linked eponymously to several neurological observations. They include Remak’s band, Remak’s fibers, and Remak’s ganglion.1 His father was a cigar merchant, in a ghetto in the Polish town of Poznan.2 He studied medicine…

  • The discovery of urea and the end of vitalism

    Mostafa ElbabaDoha, Qatar In history, ancient chemistry is known as “alchemy.” It is different than modern chemistry since it was mixed with philosophy and pseudoscience, although it is considered a protoscience. Alchemy failed to explain the nature of matter and its transformations. However, by experimentation and recording the results, alchemists set the stage for modern…

  • The ones who stay in Omelas

    Jackson MartinLubbock, Texas, United States Ursula K. Le Guin describes a paradoxical and provocative utopian city in her short story, The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas. The story reads as a parable, differing from an analogy or metaphor in that it intends to provoke varying conclusions from the audience. Le Guin does not explain…

  • Decoding the death of Maharaja Pandu

    B. Sadananda NaikKarnataka, India The Mahabharata is one of two great ancient Indian Sanskrit epics of Hinduism. It narrates the struggle between two groups of cousins in the Kurukshetra War, the Kaurava and Pandava princes. Maharaja Pandu, father of Pandavas, is one of the key figures in this epic. In the story, the premature death…

  • Picasso’s Blue Period and depression

    Mary Ellen KellyDublin, Ireland Depression is one of the most common mental disorders globally. The mental illness affects millions and is responsible for an estimated 850,000 deaths per year.1 Depression rates among medical professionals are extremely high,2 and those suffering from depression often find it hard to convey in words the emotions they are experiencing.…

  • The power of singing in Alzheimer’s patients

    May LysterDublin, Ireland Throughout the gradual decline of one’s memory and behavior, the ever-changing world can become difficult to understand and comprehend. Around the world, approximately 24 million people currently have Alzheimer’s disease. However, the number of friends and family indirectly affected by this degenerative disease is considerably higher. The experience of watching a loved…