Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: Literature

  • The anatomy of bibliotherapy: How fiction heals, part I

    Dustin Grinnell Boston, Massachusetts, United States 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 delirious. Seeking to ease her suffering, her father gave her the twenty-five books…

  • Balancing empathy

    Nora Salisbury Vancouver, BC, Canada   Street art in Vancouver’s downtown eastside. Photo by Lee Gangbar. I almost fainted on my first clinical day in nursing school. I was invited to watch a catheter insertion. While my gut reaction was to completely avoid it, I knew that as a new student nurse I was supposed…

  • “Something monomanical”: obsession and the unity of effect

    Jack Rosser Herefordshire, England, United Kingdom   A portrait of Poe in 1848, not long prior to his passing in 1849. The concept of monomania first gathered popularity in France at the beginning of the nineteenth century; the term “referred to a type of mental disorder in which a person would have fixed, and often…

  • Placebo effect or care effect? Four examples from the literary world

    Pekka LouhialaRaimo PuustinenFinland It is common knowledge that patients may exhibit improvement following an encounter in which no specific drugs or effective medications were prescribed. Indeed, even fictional doctors have often been depicted as knowing that their patients may require no active drugs and that their mere presence, their advice and encouragement, will often lead…

  • Connecting literature with medicine

    Rubina NaqviKarachi, Pakistan There is a need for increasing the education of medical students through the use of literature, so that physicians can become knowledgeable about and eager to confront the social, economic, and cultural contributors to illness. This is particularly important when one considers the great differences in economic, environmental, and health-related resources between…

  • That reminds me of a story: The language of narrative in medicine

    Ann RedpathNew York City, United States Story is ubiquitous. It’s no wonder that it shows up in medicine.How does narrative feed medical language? “I have over 500 patients,” the heart surgeon raised her voice in exasperation. “I just want you to hear my side of the story,” the patient countered. Too late. The doctor had…