Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: Greeks

  • A note on medical metaphors

    JMS PearceHull, England When Winston Churchill memorably referred to his bouts of depression as “black dog,” in two words he painted a picture that embraced feelings, which otherwise would have taken hundreds of words to describe. I have to confess a liking for certain medical metaphors. Though they can be overused in medical and biological…

  • Giorgio Baglivi and The Practice of Physick

    James Marcum Waco, Texas, United States   Figure 1. Illustration of Giorgio Baglivi from The Practice of Physick by Giorgio Baglivi. Scan courtesy of James A. Marcum “To form a right Judgment of Diseases, is a very difficult Matter.” With this opening sentence, Giorgio Baglivi (Figure 1) began his 1696 treatise De Praxi Medica, which…

  • Hippocrates, abortion, and cutting for stone

    John Raffensperger Fort Meyers, Florida, United States   Two methods of lithotomic position recommended by Sushruta. From Mukhopadhyaya G. The surgical instruments of the Hindus. (vol 2) Calcutta University Press 1914 pp 79 – 80 [public domain] Physicians who take The Oath of Hippocrates swear not to perform abortions or operate for bladder stones: Similarly,…

  • What can physicians learn from Benjamin Rush, blood, and the Red Cross?

    Ryan HillJamestown, Rhode Island, United States Despite the adamant opposition he encountered from many of his contemporaries, Dr. Benjamin Rush was undeterred; he was certain that bloodletting was the most prudent of all medical procedures and remained faithful to the practice. The late eighteenth century doctor received harsh criticism for his excessive use of this…

  • Bloody beginnings of hematology

    Sherin Jose ChockattuBengaluru, India His pole, with pewter basins hung,Black, rotten teeth in order strung,Rang’d cups that in the window stood,Lin’d with red rags, to look like blood,Did well his threefold trade explain,Who shav’d, drew teeth, and breathd a vein – John Gay (The Goat Without a Beard, 1727) For over three millennia, self-taught physicians…

  • 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…

  • Dialogues of comfort

    Anthony PapagiannisThessaloniki, Greece My patient is a veteran physician, quite advanced in years but mentally lucid and fully aware of his condition. His disease is incurable, and he is in need of a chest aspiration for symptomatic relief of his breathlessness. He is also impatient. “How much fluid have you drawn?” he asks gruffly every…