Tag Archives: Literature

The Call of the Wild and COVID-19

Liam Butchart Stony Brook, New York, United States Samantha Rizzo Washington DC, United States   Winter Scene in Moonlight. Henry Farrer. 1869. The Metropolitan Museum of Art.  The COVID-19 pandemic has wrought a terrible toll upon all of us and has brought the medical system—and the providers who inhabit it—to its knees. There is a […]

Carl Gustav Jung

Anne Jacobson Oak Park, Illinois, United States   Carl Jung. Photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson. Creative Commons. In the autumn of 1913, Carl Gustav Jung was traveling alone by train through the rust and amber forest of the Swiss countryside. The thirty-eight-year-old psychiatrist had been lately troubled by strange dreams and a rising sense of tension, […]

Somerset Maugham

JMS Pearce  Hull, England   Fig 1. Somerset Maugham by Graham Sutherland, black chalk, pencil and gouache, 1953. NPG 5327 I have two professions, not one. Medicine is my lawful wife and literature is my mistress; when I get tired of one I spend the night with the other. -Anton Chekov, 1888 As a graduate […]

Review of “Fracture: Stories of How Great Lives Take Root in Trauma”

Arpan K. Banerjee Solihull, United Kingdom   Fracture: Stories of How Great Lives Take Root in Trauma Matthew Parris, 2020. The lives of people who seem to be endowed with extraordinary abilities have long been a source of fascination. The famous Italian physician, researcher, and founder of the science of criminology, Cesare Lombroso, professed this […]

“Scarlet letters”—the depiction of scarlet fever in literature

Emily Boyle Dublin, Ireland   Fig 1 Image from page 291 of Diseases of children for nurses. by Robert Shelmerdine McCombs. 1911. Internet Archive. Scarlet fever, named for the erythematous skin rash that may accompany streptococcal infections (Fig 1), is often considered a disease of Victorian times. Associated with high levels of morbidity and mortality […]

Dirty, dark, dangerous: coal miners’ nystagmus

Ronald Fishman Chicago, Illinois, United States   A coal miner without a headlamp digging an undercut at the coal face, using only the dim light supplied by a small flame lamp. From Snell 12 It’s dark as a dungeon and damp as the dew, Where the danger is double and pleasures are few Where the rain […]

Spinoza and medical practice: can the philosophy of Baruch Spinoza enrich the thinking of doctors?

Norelle Lickiss Hobart, Tasmania, Australia   Portrait of Baruch de Spinoza (1632-1677), ca. 1665. Unknown. circa 1665. Gemäldesammlung der Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel, Germany. As doctors we seek to assuage the distress of our patients by relieving symptoms, guarding personal dignity, and remaining present even as they are dying. Yet despite these lofty goals, there […]

The anatomy of bibliotherapy: how fiction heals, part III

Dustin Grinnell  Boston, Massachusetts, United States   Portrait of Friedrich Nietzsche. Photo by Gustav Schultze. 1882. Taken from Nietzsche by Walter Kaufmann, Fourth Edition. Public Domain. A cure for loneliness In the video “What is Literature For?” produced by The School of Life, author Alain de Botton claims that books are a cure for loneliness. […]

The anatomy of bibliotherapy: how fiction heals, part II

Dustin Grinnell  Boston, Massachusetts, United States   Frontispiece to the 6th edition of Anatomy of Melancholy by Robert Burton (published under the pseudonym Democritus Junior). 1868. From the Internet Archive and the Public Domain Review. The placebo effect When first exploring literature’s psychological effects on the reader, it is important to consider whether a book […]

The anatomy of bibliotherapy: how fiction heals, part I

Dustin Grinnell  Boston, Massachusetts, United States   Man Reading Book showing cityscape, suggesting an Open Doorway. From iStock. Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind. —Rudyard Kipling Literature is medicine for the soul In the 1980s, the mother of Northrop Frye, a Canadian literary scholar, was in the hospital, ill and […]