Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: Leprosy

  • Biblical leprosy: A dermatologist’s perspective

    Harry Goldin Skokie, Illinois, United States   “‘Unclean! Unclean!’ … ” Underwood and Underwood Publishers, 1896. Crop of photo by Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, UofT on Flickr. CC BY-NC 2.0.  The descriptions of “leprosy” in chapter 13 of the Book of Leviticus in the Hebrew Bible are complex and difficult to understand. This confusion…

  • Palo Seco: A leper colony in Panama

    Enrique Chaves-Carballo Overland Park, Kansas   Fig 1. Indian 50 paisa stamp shows Armauer Hansen at work in his laboratory. Via Wikimedia. Copyright Post of India, licensed under the Government Open Data License. The history of leprosy goes back to antiquity and is replete with unscientific prejudices, including the belief that the disease was highly…

  • Leprosy and armadillos: Handle with care

    Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   A nine-banded armadillo in the Green Swamp, central Florida. Photo by Tomfriedel (BirdPhotos.com), June 27, 2008, on Wikimedia. CC BY 3.0. Leprosy (Hansen’s disease) is a chronic, disfiguring, and handicapping infectious disease. It was known in the ancient world, and evidence of the disease has been found from 2000 B.C.1…

  • Robert the Bruce

    Crop of Robert the Bruce statue, Bannockburn. kim traynor on geograph.org.uk via Wikimedia. CC BY-SA 2.0. Robert the Bruce and leprosy King Robert I of the Scots (1274–1329), better known as Robert the Bruce, is revered in Scotland as a national hero. He is principally remembered for defeating the English at Bannockburn in 1314 and…

  • Abhay Sadhak (fearless seeker): Baba Amte

    Utkarsh G. Hingmire Nagpur, India   Baba Amte. This file is a copyrighted work of the Government of India, licensed under the Government Open Data License – India (GODL). Via Wikimedia. Murlidhar Devidas Amte, affectionately known as Baba Amte, was a lawyer who left his lucrative legal career to devote his life to the treatment of…

  • St. Godric and the lost leper hospital of Darlington

    Stephen Martin UK   Fig 1. Godric praying to the Virgin, c 1400. PD-US, accessed: wikimedia, original: ©British Library Board, Cotton, Faustina, VI, ii 16 V. In the late 1100s, the English monk Reginald of Durham wrote an account in Latin of the hermit St. Godric, whom he knew personally.1 Reginald attributed over two hundred…

  • Body and soul, balance and the Sibyl of the Rhine: the life and medicine of Saint Hildegard of Bingen

    Mariel Tishma Chicago, Illinois, United States   Hildegard von Bingen receives divine inspiration and passes it on to her writer. Miniature from the Rupertsberger Codex des Liber Scivias. Via Wikimedia St. Hildegard of Bingen wrote two medical texts, three books of visions and prophecies, one of the first mystery plays, songs, musical compositions, and letters.…

  • The men who defeated syphilis

    German zoologist Fritz Schaudinn. Source Fritz Schaudinns, Verlag Leopold Voss, Hamburg und Leipzig 1911. Via Wikimedia. Beginnings The origins of syphilis have been subject to much debate. The disease has been claimed to be thousands of years old and originally to have evolved from yaws. Generally mistaken for leprosy and not recognized as a separate entity,…

  • The Sorokdo National Hospital of South Korea

    Lucy Eum New Brunswick, Canada   The wooden operating table used for vasectomies and sterilizations. Photo by Lucy Eum. 2012. Hansen’s disease, also known as leprosy, has historically been a highly stigmatized condition.1 For centuries it was thought to be a curse, a punishment for sin, or a hereditary disease.2 It was not until 1873…

  • Jack London’s cloudy crystal ball

    Edward McSweegan Kingston, Rhode Island, United States   The Scarlet Plague, by Jack London. Open Library, an initiative of the Internet Archive. The COVID-19 pandemic has given quarantined readers new opportunities to discover the literature of plagues and epidemics. Many people—in order to give context to the present pandemic—have turned to books like Albert Camus’…