Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: Body

  • Can headless martyrs really walk? The belief in cephalophores in the Middle Ages

    Andrew Wodrich Washington, DC   Saint Denis of Paris holding his severed head. Mid-15th century depiction from an illuminated prayer book (Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Ms. 5, fol. 35v, 84.ML.723.35v). The halos surrounding his decapitated head as well as the stump of his neck suggest that the soul and saintliness of St. Denis remain in…

  • Book review: Am I Normal?

    Arpan K. Banerjee Solihull, England   Cover of Am I Normal?: The 200-Year Search for Normal People (and Why They Don’t Exist) by Sarah Chaney “Am I normal?” is a question that many of us ask at some point in our lives. The existential angst of the twentieth century has resulted in a desire to…

  • The importance of the “The David Sign”

    Daniel M. GelfmanThad E. WilsonIndianapolis, Indiana, United States A recent article in JAMA Cardiology titled “The David Sign” discussed the presence of “persistent” external jugular venous distention “hiding in plain sight” on one of the world’s most famous statues: Michelangelo’s David, completed in 15041 (Figure 1). David is shown just before his fight with the…

  • Drawing blood: Depictions of transfusion in contemporary arts

    Diana-Andreea Novaceanu Bucharest, Romania   The history of blood transfusion has unfolded in stages, first from experiments on animals, then from animal to human, and finally to transfusion between humans. The subject, in all its intricacy, has been captured by medical illustrators and painters throughout the centuries. Over the course of the last decades, attitudes…

  • Karl Landsteiner and the discovery of blood groups

    Safia Benaissa Mostganem, Algeria   Karl Landsteiner (1868–1943), Austrian pathologist, hematologist and serologist; discoverer of the blood groups. Albert Hilscher. circa 1910. Accessed via Wikimedia Commons Karl Landsteiner was the Austrian scientist who recognized that humans had different blood groups and made it possible for physicians to transfuse blood safely. He entered medical school at…

  • Blood is NOT the essence of life?

    Mair Zamir London, Ontario, Canada   Figure 1. Vasculature of the human heart in an anterior view (right) and posterior view (left). This massive vascular network brings blood to within reach of every cell within the heart tissue. It is the most densely packed vascular network within the body because of the very high metabolic…

  • Oliver Sacks and caring for the whole person

    Margaret Marcum Boca Raton, Florida   Body shapes, female. Martin Addison. Wellcome Collection. CC BY 4.0. The neurologist Oliver Sacks—“The Poet Laureate of Medicine” according to The New York Times—developed an effective clinical method of treating the patient as a complete person rather than as a defective body part. He wrote that clinicians “are concerned…

  • Letter to my body

    Tereza Crvenkovic Sydney, Australia   Me with My Body (author). Photographer: Lenny Christou Dear Body, Here we are clinging to this rope, swinging from side-to-side, above this great big stage with its pitch-black backdrop. Anything could happen to us. Anything. How did it come to this? How did we get here? I do not have the…

  • Muslim women healers of the medieval and early modern Ottoman Empire

    Nada DarwishAlan S. WeberDoha, Qatar Although known only through court documents, legal proceedings, and references in the writings of male practitioners, the tabiba—a female practitioner of folk medicine, midwifery, and gynecology—was an important member of the medical community in the Ottoman Empire (1299–1923). The existing historical record unfortunately obscures the important role that women physicians, nurses,…