Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: Howard Fischer

  • Feast or famine: Food in the art of Bruegel

    Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   The Peasant Wedding. Peter Bruegel the Elder, 1566–9. Via Wikimedia.  “Famine was part of everyday life.”1   Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1525–1569), one of the most accomplished Netherlandish painters, often used peasant life as his subject. The survival of peasant agricultural society depended entirely on the success of their crops.…

  • Saving the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

    Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   Mary Elizabeth Garrett. Bust from portrait by John Singer Sargent. Via Wikimedia.  “For to this lady, more than any other single person, save Johns Hopkins himself, does the School of Medicine owe its being.”1 – Alan Chesney on Mary Elizabeth Garrett   Johns Hopkins (1795–1873) was born in Maryland, one…

  • Fear of being buried alive

    Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   A diagram of a safety coffin with a signal flag. Crop of Wellcome Collection image. CC BY 4.0.  “Cremation eliminates all danger of being buried alive.” – “Short reasons for cremation,” an Australian pamphlet, c. 1900   It has been said that one of our most common fears is being…

  • Drs. Joseph Bell, Arthur Conan Doyle, William Osler, and the method of Zadig

    Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden “The whole of medicine is observation.” – William Osler, M.D.   Paw prints. Photo by Peter Castleton on Flickr. CC BY 2.0.  M. de Voltaire, the pen name of François-Marie Arouet (1694–1778), was an Enlightenment historian, philosopher, and writer. He opposed France’s absolute monarchy and the power of the church. He…

  • The ordeal of Mary Ann Bevan

    Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   “May you be the proof that man can endure anything.” – Yiddish curse “Beauty vanishes; virtue is lasting.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe   Mary Ann Bevan before and after acromegaly. Grid created with Canva by Stela G. on Medium. Public domain photos.  From the 1840s through the 1940s, “freak…

  • The tapeworm diet: Myth, mostly

    Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   Weight loss ad depicting tapeworms as the solution to fat. US FDA via Flickr.  “Only kings, presidents, editors, and people with tapeworms have the right to use…‘we.’” – Attributed to Mark Twain   The tapeworm is a flatworm that can live in the human intestine. Humans acquire tapeworms by eating…

  • Dr. Ugo Cerletti invents electroconvulsive therapy

    Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   “Is it even possible, is it logical, is it reasonable for us to treat people who have lost their mind by making them live amongst others who have lost theirs too?”1 – Ugo Cerletti, M.D., 1949   Electroconvulsive therapy machine on display at Glenside Museum. Photo by Rodw on Wikimedia.…

  • Haff disease: We don’t know all of it

    Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   Dish of crawdads. Photo by Justin Watt via Wikimedia. CC BY 3.0. “It was an unbelievably sad thing to watch. Strong men being carried from their fishing boats to their homes—completely stiff and utterly helpless.” – Witness to 1924 disease outbreak   In the history of medicine there are examples…

  • A cesarean section in Uganda in 1879

    Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   Successful Cesarean section performed by indigenous healers in Kahura, Uganda as observed by R.W. Felkin. 1879. Via Wikimedia.  “A strange story indeed, almost too good to be true.”1   Until the end of the nineteenth century, a cesarean section to deliver an infant was considered to be an operation with…

  • John E. Fryer, M.D.: A majority of one

    Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   Historical marker honoring John Fryer. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 2017. Photo by NMGiovannucci on Wikimedia. CC BY-SA 4.0.  “Any man more right than his neighbors constitutes a majority of one.” – Henry David Thoreau   Homosexuality was defined as a psychiatric disorder in 1952, in the first edition of…