Tag Archives: 20th century

“Avoid a remedy that is worse than the disease”

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   Hair loss in child with tinea capitis infection. CDC, 1970. Public domain. Overconfidence is an undesirable quality. It does not enhance a physician’s approach to learning, nor to changing when change is needed. How a doctor diagnoses or treats a condition today may cause future generations of physicians to wonder, […]

A tangled web: stealing newborns in twentieth-century Spain

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   Newborn infant. Photo by United States Children’s Bureau, 1940s. National Library of Medicine Images from the History of Medicine. The National Library of Medicine believes this item to be in the public domain. “We were Europe’s baby supermarket and babies were stolen for sixty years.”1 — Inés Madrigal   Twentieth-century […]

Miscarriage: a medical student in a rural clinic, Central America, 1977

Paul Rousseau Charleston, South Carolina, United States   A small town in Honduras. Photo by kristin klein on Flickr. CC BY 2.0. Elena sits perched on a gurney with claret-stained thighs. She has just miscarried in the clinic’s lavatory. She inquires of the gender of the fetus, and hands twitching and heart flapping, I blurt, […]

The sixtieth anniversary of the “Battered Child Syndrome”

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   An intraparenchymal bleed with overlying skull fracture from abusive head trauma. May 29, 2016. James Heilman, MD, via Wikimedia. CC BY-SA 4.0. “The more original a discovery, the more obvious it seems afterward.” — Arthur Koestler, novelist and journalist   In 1962, Dr. C. Henry Kempe and colleagues at the […]

Traumatic experience and creativity: René Magritte

Mirjana Stojkovic-Ivkovic Belgrade, Serbia   The Lovers. René Magritte, 1928. Fair use. A painter’s creativity often results from artistic inspiration, but it can also be a manifestation of fear, pain, and suffering. René Magritte (1898–1967), a Belgian painter and great figure in modern art, expressed his thoughts and his feelings on the canvas. His unique […]

Orion H. Stuteville: a surgeon’s surgeon

Jayant Radhakrishnan Darien, Illinois, United States Bangalore Jayaram Mysuru, Karnataka, India   There is no controversy that Hera became angry at Tiresias and turned him into a woman. However, there are two versions of the cause of her anger. It was either because Tiresias struck a couple of copulating snakes or because he sided with […]

Scotland’s Anthrax Island

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   Cutaneous anthrax lesion on the neck, May 25, 1953. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Public Health Image Library. Via Wikimedia. Public domain. “They make a desolation and call it peace.” — Agha Shahid Ali (1949–2001)   During World War Two, the British government purchased from its owners the Gruinard […]

“Killed By Vaccination”: the enduring currency of a nineteenth century illogic

Saty Satya-Murti Santa Maria, California, United States   Fig. 1. William Young’s 1886 pamphlet alleging that smallpox vaccinations slaughter and kill. Source: Wellcome Collection. In Public Domain. Vaccine misinformation and anti-vaccination conspiracy theories are not new but have acquired a combative energy during the Covid-19 pandemic. Nearly all the arguments now raised against vaccination were […]

A note on Joseph Jules Dejerine (1849-1917)

JMS Pearce Hull, England, United Kingdom   Fig 1. Jules and Augusta Dejerine. Via Wikimedia. CC BY 4.0. In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, medicine in Paris flourished.1 Under the charismatic Charcot, it matched or excelled the contemporary advances in Germany and Britain. In the footsteps of Cruveilhier, Gratiolet, and Vicq d’Azyr came […]

Movie review: Pressure Point – treating the hateful patient

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   “You sing ‘My country ’tis of thee’ while they walk all over you.” — The patient, Pressure Point   German American Bund rally (1938 or 1939). From “Battle of the United States”, produced by Army Information Branch, Army Pictorial Service, Air Forces, and Navy Department in cooperation with all united […]