Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: Massachusetts

  • Maxwell Finland: expert in infectious diseases

    Martin DukeMystic, Connecticut, United States Maxwell Finland (1902-1987) was a remarkable physician, teacher, and researcher in infectious diseases. His life began during the turmoil of the pogroms in Tsarist Russia and ended in the heady academic and medical surroundings of Boston, Massachusetts. It was a life well spent. Whatever else may have prompted Frank and…

  • The literary breakdown in Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch

    Carol-Ann Farkas Boston, Massachusetts, United States   The Goldfinch By Carel Fabritius. 1654. Mauritshuis. Public Domain. Wikimedia. I. Diagnostically speaking, the “nervous” or “mental” breakdown is not a thing. The term has never been formally used in psychology, which has long preferred specific, definable categorizations of symptoms and conditions: stress, fatigue, anxiety, depression, trauma.1 And yet…

  • The death of Zachary Taylor: The first presidential assassination or a bad bowl of cherries?

    Kevin R. Loughlin Boston, Massachusetts, United States   Figure 1: Senator Foote pulling a revolver on Senator Benton on Senate Floor. The quote above Benson’s head reads, “Get out of the way and let the assassin fire! Let the scoundrel use his weapon! I have no arm’s(sic) I didn’t come here to assassinate.” Library of…

  • The Schoolhouse Lab

    Edward McSweeganKingston, Rhode Island, United States “Black measles” was a common name for spotted fever, which regularly killed people in the western United States. Symptoms included a spotty rash on the extremities, fever, chills, headache, and photophobia. No one knew what caused it. The first recorded case in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley was in 1873.1 Twenty-three…

  • The African Savannah

    Steve Ablon Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts   Photo by Steve Ablon Forty years ago, my father wore his safari hat, squinted through binoculars, told us those giraffes, the dark ones, are older,   and soon will not be able to outrun lions or will break a leg, be eaten. That is the cycle of life he…

  • Heterozygous advantage: How one deadly disease prevents another

    Neal KrishnaBoston, Massachusetts, United States Of all the genetic disorders to which man is known to be a victim, there is no other that presents an assemblage of problems and challenges quite comparable to sickle cell anemia. Because of its ubiquity, chronicity, and resistance to treatment, sickle cell anemia remains a malady whose mitigation and…

  • What it’s about

    Wesley Chou Boston, Massachusetts   At coffee-flecked booths And down corridors, wending A way through the staccato chatter, We guzzle down the details: “empty waiting room” by Julep67. 2006. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0    Oh let me tell you, One fisherman to another, Of fingers turned tassel by a firecracker, Soiled plastic and muffled screams leaking Out a…

  • Wounding words

    Charlotte Grinberg Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA   Still Life – A Student’s Table. William Michael Harnett. 1882. Philadelphia Museum of Art. In college, I majored in anthropology. I was interested in understanding the political, social, legal, and economic forces that influence behavior. As language is inherently related to consciousness and culture, its study was central to…

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

    Dustin Grinnell Boston, Massachusetts, United States 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. Since we cannot always say what we are really thinking in civilized conversations, literature often describes who we genuinely are more…

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

    Dustin Grinnell Boston, Massachusetts, United States The placebo effect When first exploring literature’s psychological effects on the reader, it is important to consider whether a book can have healing properties by acting as a placebo. In Persuasion and Healing, Jerome Frank discusses the importance of the connection between patient and healer. In his chapter on the…