Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: Boston

  • Revisiting the “Trolley Problem” in the COVID-19 pandemic

    Margaret B. Mitchell Boston, Massachusetts, United States Graham M. Attipoe  Nashville, Tennessee, United States   Bridge situation. John Holbo. 2010. CC BY-NC 2.0. Via Flickr The “Trolley Problem” Originally described by Philipa Foot in 1967, the “Trolley Problem” is an ethical dilemma commonly taught in philosophy that challenges participants to explore how far they would…

  • Maxwell Finland: expert in infectious diseases

    Martin Duke Mystic, Connecticut, United States   Maxwell Finland in the senior yearbook from the Harvard Class Album 1922. (Credit: HUD 322.04 page 181. Harvard University Archives.) Maxwell Finland (1902-1987) was a remarkable physician, teacher, and researcher in infectious diseases. His life began during the turmoil of the pogroms in Tsarist Russia and ended in…

  • Have we learned anything from 1918–1919 influenza?

    Edward Winslow Wilmette, Illinois, United States Actual daily deaths from influenza, September to November 1918. Monthly Bulletin of the Department of Health, December 1918. NYC Municipal Library. Source.  The 2020 viral pandemic (COVID-19),1 in spite of being caused by a novel virus family, bears striking epidemiological and social resemblance to the influenza pandemic of 1918.2 Both…

  • Dr. Avery, Medicine Woman

    Edward McSweegan Kingston, Rhode, Island, United States   Doctor Alida C. Avery, Photo courtesy of Archives and Specials Collections/Vassar College Library. Source In July 1878, astronomers headed into the American West to observe a total eclipse of the sun. Among them was America’s only woman astronomer, Maria Mitchell of Vassar College, and four of her…

  • Heterozygous advantage: How one deadly disease prevents another

    Neal KrishnaBoston, Massachusetts, United States Of all the genetic disorders to which man is known to be a victim, there is no other that presents an assemblage of problems and challenges quite comparable to sickle cell anemia. Because of its ubiquity, chronicity, and resistance to treatment, sickle cell anemia remains a malady whose mitigation and…

  • What it’s about

    Wesley Chou Boston, Massachusetts   At coffee-flecked booths And down corridors, wending A way through the staccato chatter, We guzzle down the details: “empty waiting room” by Julep67. 2006. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0    Oh let me tell you, One fisherman to another, Of fingers turned tassel by a firecracker, Soiled plastic and muffled screams leaking Out a…

  • The woman doctor as medical and moral authority: Helen Brent MD

    Carol-Ann Farkas Boston, Massachussetts, United States   In the late nineteenth century, many women who dared to study and practice medicine tempered that radical move with the reassuring insistence that, by virtue of their sex, they could combine medical knowledge with feminine, maternal guidance for the physical and moral well-being of their patients. The gender…

  • The anatomy of bibliotherapy: How fiction heals, part III

    Dustin Grinnell  Boston, Massachusetts, United States   Portrait of Friedrich Nietzsche. Photo by Gustav Schultze. 1882. Taken from Nietzsche by Walter Kaufmann, Fourth Edition. Public Domain. A cure for loneliness In the video “What is Literature For?” produced by The School of Life, author Alain de Botton claims that books are a cure for loneliness.…

  • The anatomy of bibliotherapy: How fiction heals, part II

    Dustin Grinnell  Boston, Massachusetts, United States   Frontispiece to the 6th edition of Anatomy of Melancholy by Robert Burton (published under the pseudonym Democritus Junior). 1868. From the Internet Archive and the Public Domain Review. The placebo effect When first exploring literature’s psychological effects on the reader, it is important to consider whether a book…

  • The anatomy of bibliotherapy: How fiction heals, part I

    Dustin Grinnell  Boston, Massachusetts, United States   Man Reading Book showing cityscape, suggesting an Open Doorway. From iStock. Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind. —Rudyard Kipling   Literature is medicine for the soul In the 1980s, the mother of Northrop Frye, a Canadian literary scholar, was in the hospital, ill…