Tag Archives: Medical Humanities

Abraham Colles—giant among surgeons

Abraham Colles. From the Dr. Steevens’ Hospital, Dublin. Source. Abraham Colles was born in Kilkenny in Ireland in 1773. The story has it that as a boy he found an anatomy book in a field after a flood had destroyed a doctor’s house. He took the book to his owner, a Dr. Butler, who, finding […]

Another look at the medical problems of Jean-Paul Marat: searching for a unitary diagnosis

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   L’Assassinat de Marat / Charlotte Corday. Paul-Jacques-Aimé Baudry. 1860. Musée d’Arts de Nantes. Via Wikimedia. Jean-Paul Marat (1743-1793) was a practicing physician, scientist, and a leader of the French Revolution. He also suffered from a chronic, intractable skin condition, which troubled the last five years of his life. A tormenting […]

My very own back pain

Andrew Bamji Rye, East Sussex, UK   Illustration by Claude Serre. As a rheumatologist, now retired, I spent a good portion of my working life dealing with patients who had back pain. I reckoned over the course of thirty-three years in the specialty that I had back pain largely nailed. I developed an algorithm which […]

Phillipe Gaucher (1854-1918)

Philippe Charles Ernest Gaucher. Via Wikimedia. In the days when syphilis was rampant in Europe and diagnostic modalities few, many unrelated medical conditions were erroneously attributed to it. There was, for example, the distinguished professor of syphilology and dermatology at the Hôpital Saint-Antoine and the University of Paris, who “aggressively promoted” the idea that poliomyelitis […]

Monet’s illnesses: beyond cataracts

Sally Metzler Chicago, Illinois, USA   Fig. 1: Claude Monet, Apple Trees in Blossom, 1872, Union League Club of Chicago. Fig. 2: Claude Monet, The Japanese Footbridge, ca. 1922, Modern Museum of Art New York. No other artist in the world is more beloved than Claude Monet (1840-1926), the father of French Impressionism. From Shanghai […]

Theodor Kocher (1841-1917)

Emil Theodor Kocher. published in 1909 in Les Prix Nobel p. 66. Via Wikimedia. Theodor Kocher was the first surgeon to ever receive the Nobel Prize. He was born in 1841 in Bern, Switzerland, went to school there, and was first in his class. He studied medicine in Bern and graduated summa cum laude, then went […]

COVID-19 and the Black Death

Colleen Donnelly  Denver, Colorado, United States   A street during the plague in London with a death cart and mourners. Colour wood engraving by E. Evans. Wellcome Library no. 6918i. Source During the fourteenth century waves of the bubonic plague washed across Europe. Doomsday books of the age described an apocalypse that wiped out one-quarter […]

The Emberá of Panama

L. J. Sandlow George Dunea Chicago, Illinois, United States   The Emberá are an indigenous people who live near the Panama-Columbia border. There are about 33,000 living in Darién, Panama, and 50,000 in Colombia. Until 1960 most lived in extended family settlements along the rivers. Since the 60s many have moved together into small villages, […]

Budapest: medicine and paprika

L. J. Sandlow George Dunea Chicago, Illinois, United States   The Magyars, ancestors of modern Hungarians, came from the region of the Ural Mountains and invaded Europe around AD 800. Crossing the Carpathian Mountains, they conquered the Pannonian plain and established a large and important medieval kingdom. In 1526 they were defeated at the decisive […]

Asclepius at Epidaurus

L. J. Sandlow George Dunea Chicago, Illinois, United States   An Athenian seeking a cure for his afflictions in the fourth century BC had the option of visiting several competing sanctuaries, at Delphi, Olympia, or Epidaurus. To reach Epidaurus, the Athenian would bypass Megara and Corinth, then turn south and find himself at the shrine […]