Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: Jewish

  • Medicine and the Jews in the Middle Ages

    Shelley GrachChicago, Illinois, United States In the Middle Ages, fear and superstition often stood in the path of helping the sick, as maladies were believed to result from the sins of the afflicted. These roadblocks were compounded by inherited hostility towards Jews, impeding Jewish participation in scientific education at educational institutions. The University of Montpellier…

  • The adenoid riots of 1906

    Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   Sagittal section of nose mouth, pharynx, and larynx showing the adenoids, or pharyngeal tonsils (in green). Not to be confused with the tonsils in the back of the throat. From Grays Anatomy, 20th edition. Bartleby via Wikimedia. Public domain. On June 28, 1906, thousands of Eastern European Jewish women surrounded…

  • A celebrated occasion

    Eli Ehrenpreis Chicago, Illinois, United States   Artwork by Annie Trincot.       She arrives at the office early, looking as if she stepped from a portrait. Her blue eyes glimmer with tears. “My gynecologist has been treating me for hemorrhoids, but the bleeding has been getting worse. It started when I had my…

  • Movie review: Pressure Point – treating the hateful patient

    Howard FischerUppsala, Sweden “You sing ‘My country ’tis of thee’ while they walk all over you.”— The patient, Pressure Point Pressure Point (1962) is a “doctor movie” that is “all but unknown to the general public.”1 This is unfortunate, since it contains important messages as well as some splendid acting. The story is told as…

  • Professor Bernhardi, a play by Arthur Schnitzler, M.D.

    Howard FischerUppsala, Sweden “A spiteful something has been fabricated out of an innocent nothing.”— Dr. Löwenstein in Professor Bernhardi       Professor Bernhardi: A Comedy in Five Acts (1912) is one of seventeen plays written by Arthur Schnitzler (1862-1931), a Viennese physician who also published two novels and twelve short stories or novellas. He…

  • COVID-19 and the Black Death

    Colleen Donnelly Denver, Colorado, United States During the fourteenth century waves of the bubonic plague washed across Europe. Doomsday books of the age described an apocalypse that wiped out one-quarter to one-third of the population. Today, we are far better at tracking both the numbers of people impacted and the spread of disease, depending on the…

  • Dr. Samuel Sarphati

    Annabelle SlingerlandLeiden, the Netherlands Times of confusion and uncertainty can also be fruitful grounds for seeds to root, rise, and bloom. One such seed was Dr. Samuel Sarphati, who created New Amsterdam on the banks of the river Amstel. Amsterdam in the early nineteenth century was already renowned for its prosperous canal belts, streets lit…

  • Ferdinand Sauerbruch, father of thoracic surgery

    Annabelle Slingerland Leon Lacquet Leiden, the Netherlands   Ferndinand Sauerbruch at a medical lecture at the University of Zurich, between 1910 and 1917. Source unknown. Accessed via Wikimedia commons. Source Ferdinand Sauerbruch (1875-1951) was one of the most important thoracic surgeons of the first half of the twentieth century, remembered for pioneering a method that…

  • The sight of blood

    Joanne JacobsonNew York, New York, United States None of us live to adulthood without seeing our own blood—growing up, I witnessed my blood flow free of my body too many times to count. The bleeding knee picked clean of leaves and gravel after my father sent me spinning down the driveway on my birthday bike;…

  • Mahler’s endocarditis and broken heart

    Michael YafiHouston, Texas, United States Gustave Mahler (1860–1911) suffered from personal setbacks throughout his life. Despite receiving more acclaim in early 1900, the death of his daughter Maria from scarlet fever and diphtheria affected him deeply.1 During the same year, Mahler received a vague diagnosis of a “defective heart,” which was later confirmed by the Viennese cardiologist…