Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: Frank Gonzalez-Crussi

  • Love as illness: Symptomatology

    Frank Gonzalez-CrussiChicago, Illinois, United States Is love a disease? I mean erotic, obsessive, knees-a-trembling, passionate love. This is a question on which philosophers have descanted interminably. So have anthropologists, physicians, poets, and, in short, all those who suffer what Juvenal called insanabile cacoethes scribendi1 (“the incurable mania of writing”). All these have set forth their…

  • The dream of the uterus

    F. Gonzalez-Crussi  Chicago, Illinois, United States   Front page of the book that started the debate on “the thinking uterus” at the University of Bologna: Genial days of the dialectic of women, reduced to its true principle, etc. Naples, 1763. More than one-half century ago, it was my duty to examine and describe, day in…

  • Animality revisited in times of the coronavirus: A fable

    Frank Gonzalez-CrussiChicago, Illinois, United States Imagine, as painters have done, representatives of animal species congregated in an assembly (Fig. 1). A man comes to address this motley crowd in this way: “You guys [he purposefully adopts this condescending language] have recently wronged us. Let me start by reminding you that you did not discover fire;…

  • Of luxuriant manes and in praise of baldness

    Frank Gonzalez-CrussiChicago, Illinois, United States The feverish imagination of poets has ever eulogized the beauty of feminine hair. The beloved’s hair has been represented as golden threads, sunrays, fragrant flowers, or astrakhan fleece (wool famous for its tight, shiny loops). Richard Lovelace spoke of it as “sunlight wound up in ribbands.”1 To Charles Baudelaire, his…

  • Cranium: the symbolic powers of the skull

    F. Gonzalez-Crussi Chicago, Illinois, USA   It Was a Man and a Pot. Georgia O’Keeffe. 1942. Crocker Art Museum Of all bodily parts, the head has traditionally enjoyed the greatest prestige. The Platonic Timaeus tells us that secondary gods (themselves created by the Demiurge) copied the round form of the universe to make the head,…

  • Is there a good death?

    Frank Gonzalez-Crussi Chicago, Illinois, United States   Contemplation study Photography by Jenny Wright Is there a good death? I contend that there is no answer to this question. There is indeed a rare species of questions that are unanswerable, and this is one of them. Those who have escaped from a near-fatal accident, or recovered from…

  • Of metaphoric hearts

    Frank Gonzalez-CrussiChicago, Illinois, United States An indescribable nostalgia, a feeling compounded of wistfulness, the alacrity of happy memories, and the pain of regret for things irretrievably lost invades me as I evoke one of my former visits to my birthplace in Mexico City. I could tell my mother had aged together with her modest apartment:…

  • On a miraculous birth

     Frank Gonzalez-Crussi Chicago, Illinois, United States For all the odes that sing the advent of a new life, childbirth is a bloody, messy affair. Those of us who, by reason of our trade, observed it at close range know that it is also a scission, a brutal separation of two beings, during which life issues…

  • Lovesickness in art and medicine

    Frank Gonzalez-CrussiChicago, Illinois, United States Have you ever suffered the pangs of romantic passion? Count yourself lucky if you have not, for studies show that this feeling may thrive in any world culture.1 The defining characteristic of lovesickness is an obsessive thought: the lovelorn are tormented by the constant image of the unattainable love-object. This…

  • Bronzino and the wages of sin

    Frank Gonzalez-CrussiChicago, Illinois, United States No one knows who first conceived the idea of using a wig or precisely when this curious idea came into being. Wigs were known in Greco-Roman antiquity, as one can see in Ovid’s “Art of Love” (Ars Amatoria: book III, verses 165–168), where the poet upbraids a woman for wearing…