Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Category: Ethics

  • Self-regulation in peril

    Yasmina Rebani-LeeNew York, New York, United States One day on my walk home, I began to tally up the number of vapor shops, or vape shops, I came across. To my dismay, I found that four of these shops had sprouted within a five-block radius, practically the equivalent of one on each block. I began…

  • Blaming Tuskegee for present ills

    Adil MenonChicago, Illinois, United States The USPHS Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male is United States medical history’s most tragic example of the road to Hell being paved with good intentions. In the early 20th century, the Public Health Service and the Rosenwald Fund looked to Alabama’s Maycomb County and found a…

  • Eugenics in Chicago, 1915: Harry Haiselden, M.D., and The Black Stork

    Howard FischerUppsala, Sweden In the first decades of the twentieth century, the idea of eugenics took root in Northern Europe, Scandinavia, Great Britain, and the US. Anthropologists, geneticists, physicians, and politicians informed the public about eugenics and influenced policy and law. Eugenics, from the Greek eu-, good, and genos, birth, is an attempt to “improve”…

  • From Sophocles to the frontline

    Alexandra Pliakopanou Ioannina, Greece   Ulysses and Neoptolemus Taking Hercules’ Arrows from Philoctetes. François-Xavier Fabre, 1800, Musée Fabre. Via Wikimedia. In the deserted misty land of Lemnos, a wailing voice echoes, emanating from a wounded warrior abandoned by his comrades nine years ago. Philoctetes, the titular character of Sophocles’ 409 BC play and once a…

  • Preventing the next Mengele

    Matthew Turner McChord, Washington, United States   Josef Mengele in 1956. Via Wikimedia. The icy November wind cut like a knife through his dress uniform, down to his very bones, but the young doctor did not move a muscle. Like a statue, he stared ahead with the other men in the column at the podium…

  • I’m not a good man or a bad man, I just follow orders

    Luisa Alanís Sáenz Mexico City, Mexico   A veces siento que soy mayoría (Sometimes I feel like I am the majority). Artwork by Diane Wilke. Used with permission.  “Shoot, they told me. I obeyed. I’ve always been obedient. By obedience I conquered my high rank … I’m not a good man or a bad man…

  • Movie review: Miss Evers’ Boys

    P. Ravi Shankar Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia   Segregated water fountains. Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. U.S. Army photo. The Tuskegee Syphilis study was a dark chapter in United States history. In 1932, the United States Public Health Service (USPHS) began to study the natural history of progression of syphilis. The study was originally called the “Tuskegee…

  • Dr. David Hartley and the benevolent AI

    Erik Anderson Houston, Texas   Leftmost image: Portrait of David Hartley by Schakelton. National Library of Medicine. Public domain. Right images: AI-generated art of David Hartley, created with Night Café on February 2, 2023, using text prompts (e.g., “David Hartley physician and philosopher”) and/or the portrait of David Hartley as inputs. Fair use. Question posed…

  • Faith in medicine

    Tyler Beauchamp Augusta, Georgia, United States    Photo by Sven Piper on Unsplash. When I was in college, I worked for a nursing unit in the trauma ward. One patient had been in a horrible car accident and barely survived. I visited her for the better part of two weeks before she began to improve.…

  • 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.…