Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Author: Hektoen International

  • Echinococcus granulosus, the sheepdog worm

    In the days when Britain ruled the waves and its colonies, some sheep from Thomas Hardy’s Wessex and other counties followed their masters to the antipodes instead of stupidly jumping off a cliff.1 They multiplied in the sun and produced much wool, some of which was later returned to England under the imperial preference system…

  • The eponymous tumors of the kidney: Wilms and Grawitz

    In a time when diseases were often named after the first person to describe them, kidney tumors were classified into Wilms tumors for children and Grawitz tumors for adults. Both names supposedly honored the memory of these pioneers, and unlucky candidates sitting for medical examinations were sometimes expected to know who these people were. Max…

  • Touching for the King’s Evil

    JMS PearceHull, England The old word scrofula is now seldom seen in medical writings. Nor are the words ague, buboe, and podagra. Despite their romantic, descriptive appeal, they have been swept aside by the jet stream of the current epidemic of maladroit, often high-tech words, phrases, acronyms, and initialisms. Scrofula, the “King’s Evil,” or “struma,”…

  • Arnold Schoenberg’s String Trio Op. 45: Notes on “My Fatality”

    James L. FranklinChicago, Illinois, United States On August 2, 1946, the Austrian-born composer Arnold Schoenberg suffered a near fatal heart attack at his home in Los Angeles. Despite the fragile state of his health, on August 20th he was able to resume work on a string trio that had been commissioned by Harvard University. Schoenberg…

  • Marcel Marceau saved children with silence

    Howard FischerUppsala, Sweden “The people who came back from the camps were never able to talk about it…”– Marcel Marceau, French entertainer, explaining why he acted without words Marcel Marceau (1923–2007) entertained people all over the world for sixty years as a mime. He was born Marcel Mangel in Strasbourg, France, to a Jewish family.…

  • Filariasis and elephantiasis, plagues of the tropics

    Imagine being bitten by a mosquito, not in your hometown but in one of the countries you have always longed to visit. After a few days, you may not feel well. This is because you have been invaded by the tiny micro-larvae offspring of a worm that lives in another person. You may or may…

  • A medical visionary

    David GreenChicago, Illinois, United States The year was 1967. My father had just had his prostate removed and was having considerable post-surgical pain. On the fifth post-operative day, he collapsed suddenly and could not be resuscitated. The post-mortem examination showed multiple fresh blood clots in his lungs. I was devastated but should not have been…

  • The doctrine of signatures

    JMS PearceHull, England Many of the ideas of scientists and physicians of the past have been proved false by subsequent advances in science. But some remain of interest in showing how our ancestors thought about diseases and how limited were their facilities to analyze and treat them. Up to the end of the sixteenth century,…

  • Rabies, still a deadly disease

    The man recovered of the bite,The dog it was that died!—Oliver Goldsmith Unfortunately, this is untrue! An estimated 60,000 people die each year from rabies and most cases are due to dog bites. Rabies affects largely the poor rural populations of Africa and Asia, in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, in Sri Lanka and Thailand, the…

  • The Polish Medical School at Edinburgh University, 1941–1949

    Howard FischerUppsala, Sweden “…an affirmation that science can be international…”– Surgeon Antoni Jurasz (1882–1961), dean of the Polish Medical School After the Nazi army invaded Poland, the remnants of the Polish military evacuated to France. When France was invaded in the summer of 1940, the Polish forces were sent to Scotland to participate in the…