Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: Alcoholism

  • Wernicke-Korsakoff encephalopathy: A historical note

    JMS PearceHull, England Before Sergei Sergeivich Korsakoff described the psychosis that bears his name, Carl Wernicke reported a closely related and often coexistent syndrome. It is variously named Wernicke-Korsakoff encephalopathy, syndrome, or psychosis. Two more different personalities would be hard to imagine. Wernicke’s encephalopathy The crucial clinical account of Wernicke’s encephalopathy is found in the…

  • Dr. Susan LaFlesche Picotte: tradition, assimilation, and healing

    Mariel Tishma Chicago, Illinois, United States   Fig 1. Susan La Flesche Picotte. 1889. Drexel University College of Medicine Legacy Center Archives & Special Collections. Published with permission. “My office hours are any and all hours of the day and night.” — Susan LaFlesche Picotte1   It was August of 1889 and Dr. Susan LaFlesche Picotte…

  • “John Barleycorn Must Die”: Addiction attributions in Jack London’s Alcoholic Memoirs

    Ad A. KapteinBarend W. FlorijnPim B. van der MeerLeiden, the Netherlands A thousand words every morning—with iron discipline, Jack London adhered to his writing routine. Later in the day, he would turn to John Barleycorn: beer, wine, whisky, and brandy. His John Barleycorn: Alcoholic Memoirs (1913) tells of his drinking career, which took off after…

  • Alzheimer and his disease

    JMS Pearce Hull, England   Fig 1. Alois Alzheimer. 1915 or earlier. From Wikimedia “Fortiter in re, suaviter in modo (powerfully in deed, gently in manner).” — Franz Nissl’s description of Alzheimer (1916)   Curiously, until the 1970s the high prevalence Alzheimer’s disease was not recognized as the most common cause of dementia.1 Most demented…

  • Quincy—A crusading doctor played by a crusading actor

    Howard FischerUppsala, Sweden The television series Quincy, or Quincy, M.E. [Medical examiner], aired between 1976 and 1983 in the US. One hundred forty-six episodes of this program were televised. Quincy was originally conceived as a crime drama, with the police helped by the ideas and findings of Dr. Quincy (no first name), a forensic pathologist…

  • The derailment of Franklin Pierce

    Jacob Appel New York, New York, United States Few subjects have attracted as much attention from medical historians, both well-founded and speculative, as the health of United States presidents. Considerable debate exists over the extent of impairment caused by Lincoln’s bouts of melancholia,1 Grant’s alcoholism,2 Wilson’s stroke,3 and Coolidge’s depression4—to name only those chief executives from…

  • There is power in the blood

    Mark TanNorthwest Deanery, UK “Carne fa carne e vino fa sango” [Meat makes flesh and wine makes blood]— Italian proverb Laura was covered in blood when the paramedics arrived at her house. Her husband, in a state of shock, had gathered every available towel in the vicinity, but it seemed too little and too late.…

  • It’s elementary: The addictions of Sherlock Holmes

    Kevin R. LoughlinBoston, Massachusetts, USA One might ask, why write about the addictions of a fictional character? The answer is that there is often a fine line between reality and fiction. The New York Times columnist Bret Stephens recently quoted a survey that found 20% of British teenagers thought that Winston Churchill was a fictional…

  • The door to recovery

    Irene Metzner Glenn Youngkrantz Chicago, Illinois, United States   Stories about addiction are often filled with despair, but they don’t have to be: this is a true story in two parts. The first is the perspective of a patient, and the second that of his doctor, as they chose to be hopeful.   Part I The Two Doorways. James McNeill Whistler. 1879/80. Art…

  • Heroes and alcohol

    Cal BartleyPenarth, South Wales, United Kingdom It would seem that literary heroes cannot function without alcohol, as so many great books reference alcohol in a positive light. Even if it does not lubricate the plot, a glance at many classics suggest that a stiff drink is needed for the hero to successfully reach the final…