Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: Mahala Yates Stripling

  • “Man’s greatest pleasure”: Dr. Richard Selzer, as patient

    Mahala StriplingFort Worth, Texas, United States A Yale-New Haven surgeon-writer, Richard Selzer wrote stories about his patients that illuminated their souls. But he did not really know what it was like to be a patient until a dramatic, transformational event occurred on the last day of March, 1991. Returning home from a long speaking tour…

  • “What’s a soul?”: Richard Selzer finds the spirit in the flesh

    Mahala Stripling Fort Worth, Texas, United States   Richard Selzer at the Elizabethan Club, 2004. Photo courtesy James L. Stripling. When he was a child, Dickie Selzer asked his father, “What’s a soul?” Julius replied, “No such thing.” When his inquisitive son pressed him further, he gave this answer: “Oh, a little bag of air,…

  • Impostor syndrome: Richard Selzer’s life of doubt

    Mahala Stripling Fort Worth, Texas, United States   Richard Selzer in the two-act play The Doctor Stories “I am called by the name of Chekhov. Each time I hear it, I blush and cringe. He had true genius; I just do the best I can. There is an enormous difference. I do believe it is important…

  • The surgeon storyteller

    Mahala Yates Stripling Fort Worth, Texas, United States   Detail of Sterling Memorial Library at Yale University Arriving early as usual, Richard Selzer leaned on his cane near the High Street entrance to the Sterling Memorial Library. Now at 5’ 7” and 123 pounds, this world-famous doctor-writer looked diminutive, dressed in his tan corduroy pants…

  • Richard Selzer: the birth of literature and medicine

    Mahala Stripling Fort Worth, Texas, United States   Richard Selzer was among the first physicians to understand the power of writing and reading fiction within medicine. He helped to open up this whole territory to those of us who came after. His legacy is, on the one hand, the text—what he’s written—and, on the other…