Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: depression

  • What would one prefer to say about Bartleby?

    Howard FischerUppsala, Sweden “Bartleby is the enigmatic personality par excellence.”1 Herman Melville (1819–1891) was a prolific American novelist and poet. He was born in New York City. Both of his grandfathers were officers in the Colonial Army during the American Revolution, one a colonel, the other a general. When his family had financial troubles, he…

  • Picasso’s Blue Period and depression

    Mary Ellen KellyDublin, Ireland Depression is one of the most common mental disorders globally. The mental illness affects millions and is responsible for an estimated 850,000 deaths per year.1 Depression rates among medical professionals are extremely high,2 and those suffering from depression often find it hard to convey in words the emotions they are experiencing.…

  • Depression in Little Miss Sunshine

    Emily AtashkariDublin, Ireland The 2006 film Little Miss Sunshine1 follows the dysfunctional Hoover family as they journey from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Redondo Beach, California, in their old Volkswagen van to bring seven-year-old Olive to the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant. One member of the Hoover family is Frank, who has recently attempted suicide. Frank…

  • Christian Sibelius: Finland’s first professor of psychiatry

    Jonathan Davidson Durham, North Carolina, United States   Photo of Christian Sibelius taken c. 1915–1920 by Atelier Nyblin. Via Wikimedia. Public domain. When the name Sibelius is mentioned, most people will think of the famous Finnish composer, Jean. Outside of Scandinavia, few will know that Jean’s younger brother, Christian, achieved distinction in a very different…

  • Clausewitz’s death: Cholera and melancholy

    Nicolas Roberto RoblesBadajoz, Spain “Sollte mich ein früher Tod in dieser Arbeit unterbrechen”(“If an early death should terminate my work”)— Carl von Clausewitz, Vom Kriege Carl Philipp Gottfried von Clausewitz (1780–1831) was a Prussian general and military theorist who stressed the psychological and political aspects of waging war. He is remembered chiefly for his work…

  • Paruresis: “Shy bladder” syndrome

    Howard FischerUppsala, Sweden “Keep calm and carry on.”– British motivational poster, 1939 Paruresis is the fear of being unable to urinate without privacy. It is more than simple shyness or embarrassment, but is rather an “intermittent idiopathic form of urinary retention.”1 In severe cases, the individual can only urinate at home, alone. The term “paruresis”…

  • Andersonville, Georgia and Elmira, New York: When Hell was on Earth

    Howard FischerUppsala, Sweden “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here”— Dante Alighieri, Divine Comedy When the American Civil War (1861–1865) began neither the Union nor the Confederacy gave much thought to housing prisoners-of-war (POWs). Eventually, the two opposing sides had a total of about 120 POW camps.1 The two armies had captured a total of…

  • The mystique of psychiatry: a closer look

    Lawrence ClimoLincoln, Massachusetts, United States As a retired psychiatrist, I have been thinking about the mystique that surrounds our profession. Psychiatrists seem to trigger three provocative associations that set them apart from other physicians. The first, sometimes interpreted as a wish, is that psychiatrists read minds and therefore know what is concealed or hidden inside…

  • Furniture of bones

    D. Brendan JohnsonMinneapolis, Minnesota, United States “Would you like the new patient?” My senior resident offered me the next admission, a patient being stabilized in the emergency department after a suicide attempt. As a fresh medical student in the beginning of my clinical education, I quickly said yes, plucked up my courage, and went to…

  • Remembrance of things past

    JMS Pearce Hull, England, United Kingdom   Photo by Anita Jankovic on Unsplash In these troubled times imposed by Covid-19, much attention has been paid to depression, stress, and complaints of enforced isolation and of longing for the old days—the “normal times.” In this and in other contexts, nostalgia is regarded as a normal sentiment…