Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: culture

  • Book review: Civilization and the Culture of Science

    Arpan K. BanerjeeSolihull, United Kingdom The word civilization has both Latin and French origins: civitas (city) and civis (citizen) in Latin, and civilise (civilized) in French. In 1923, physician, philosopher, and theologian Albert Schweitzer wrote in The Philosophy of Civilization that “Civilization was essentially the sum total of all progress made by man in every…

  • What’s inside us?: Socio-cultural themes in anatomical naming

    Frazer A. TessemaChicago, Illinois, United States Anatomical terms often read as Latin or Greek gibberish whose main purpose is to be obscure trivia in the first-year medical school ritual called anatomy class. But a surprising trend emerges through the English translations of these archaic names: many parts of the human body are named not for…

  • Closed mouth, open heart

    Ellen HittTucson, Arizona, United States As a child, my life was uprooted every three years. I said goodbye to my friends, my school, and life as I knew it as my family moved across the country. Every so often, I even said goodbye to my dad as he left for a deployment; this was the…

  • Culture frames the experience and response to psychotic delusions

    Colleen Donnelly Denver, Colorado, United States   Photo by Camila Quintero Franco on Unsplash Since the 1950s many people suffering from psychotic delusions have claimed that these were caused by contemporary technology such as electromagnetic and micro- waves or computer chips clandestinely planted during medical procedures or alien abductions. Such tightly held beliefs and anxieties…

  • Men, women, and idioms of distress

    Mary Seeman Toronto, Ontario, Canada   What pedisyon may feel like. Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels. In all cultures there is a place for illness that is not easily explained by individual pathology. It is usually attributed to larger societal unrest, with some individuals responding to that unrest with somatic or psychological symptoms. When…

  • Schizophrenia in Nikolai Gogol’s Diary of a Madman and Lu Xun’s A Madman’s Diary

    Janet Ming GuoAtlanta, Georgia, United States Lu Xun’s 狂人日記 (A Madman’s Diary; 1918)1 was inspired by Nikolai Gogol’s Записки сумасшедшего, Zapiski sumasshedshevo (Diary of a Madman; 1835).2 Both works reveal crucial information about schizoaffective disorder and schizophrenia, two psychiatric disorders that are often misdiagnosed3 but affect many people worldwide. In 2019 the World Health Organization estimated…

  • Harvey Cushing: Surgeon, Author, Soldier, Historian 1869-1939

    John Raffensperger Fort Meyers, Florida, United States   Harvey Williams Cushing. Photograph by W.(?)W.B. Credit: Wellcome Collection. (CC BY 4.0) Harvey Cushing was a third-generation physician, born to a family of New England Puritans who had migrated to Cleveland, Ohio, in the mid 1830s. His father and grandfather were successful physicians; family members on both…

  • Literatim: Essays at the intersections of medicine and culture

    Arpan K. BanerjeeSolihull, UK In this interesting collection, medical historian Howard Markel has brought together his previously published essays from the New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of the American Medical Association, and the PBS Newsletter into one volume. The collection of eighty pieces covers a wide range of topics that have interested Markel over…

  • The 1918 Pandemic—the collective story versus the personal narrative

    Mariella ScerriMellieha, Malta Stalin’s claim that a “single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic”1 reverberates at a time when the world is gripped by fear as it tries to come to terms with a pandemic caused by the latest novel coronavirus, SARS-COV-2. Throughout history, humanity has had to contend with new…

  • Blood policies and bioart in the 1900s

    Christopher HubbardOhio, United States Policies related to blood that were adopted in the U.S. during the early to mid-1900s produced cultural and legal effects for certain populations. In 1920, for example, the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act was passed by Congress,1 which modified how identity classifications and boundaries would be drawn up. The act classified an…