Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: morphine

  • Opium and its derivatives

    Humans have taken psychotropic drugs since time immemorial, for pleasure and for pain. Opium was used by the Sumerians during the Neolithic era and mentioned in the Egyptian Papyrus Ebers and in ancient Chinese manuscripts. It was prescribed by the Greek and Roman physicians, by Hippocrates, Dioscorides, Pliny, Celsus, and Galen. The Roman emperor Marcus…

  • From poppy to morphine and heroin

    JMS PearceHull, England Among the remedies which it has pleased almighty God to give to man to relieve his sufferings, none is so universal and so efficacious as opium.—Thomas Sydenham, 1680 The controversial pharmaceutical company Farbenfabriken Bayer AG* had an important role in the development of morphine, heroin, and aspirin, the most effective and widely…

  • Dr. Mikhail Bulgakov and morphine

    Howard FischerUppsala, Sweden “During the years of war and revolution it was hard to find a hospital without morphine-addicted patients.”1– Vladimir Gorovoy-Shaltan, physician specialist in addiction medicine Mikhail Afanasyevich Bulgakov (1891–1940) was a Russian physician, novelist, and playwright. He earned his medical degree from the University of Kiev (now Kyiv) in 1916. In 1919 he…

  • Addiction a century ago

    “Addiction, mainly in the upper classes, was viewed with sympathy. It was not a criminal offense to buy or sell morphine. Freud for a time prescribed cocaine to some of his excitable patients, and we know that Sherlock Holmes, when he was bored, injected himself with a 7% solution. Soon after their accession, the tzar…

  • Memories of a West Virginia coal camp

    Calvin KuninColumbus, Ohio, United States This is a brief account of my experience as a physician at a coal mining camp in rural West Virginia. It is based on my memory of events that took place almost seventy years ago but remain vivid in my mind. The adventure began the day I graduated from medical…

  • Ella’s addiction: The story of a mother and morphine

    Lisa MulleneauxNew York, New York, United States Doctors today are relearning lessons from a century ago when overprescription of opioids created an epidemic of addicts, most of whom were upper-class or middle-class women. Eugene O’Neill’s mother, Mary “Ella” Quinlan O’Neill, was one of them, and the playwright’s harrowing portrait of her as Mary Tyrone in…

  • Poppy power

    John Graham-PoleGainesville, Florida, United States The poppy’s juice . . .brings the sleep to dear Mama— Sara Coleridge, Pretty Lessons in Verse for Good Children In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure dome decree— Samuel Coleridge, Kubla Khan, penned on waking from an opium-induced dream Of all God’s floral bounty, only papaver somnifera drips its beads…

  • On being a spousal caregiver

    William Black Knoxville, Tennessee, United States   When I was 55 years old, and had been in the private practice of Internal Medicine and Nephrology for 22 years, my wife Barbara was diagnosed with breast cancer. At the time of her diagnosis she already had widespread bony metastases. Five weeks later, I came home one…

  • Illuminating addiction: Morphinomania in fin-de-siècle visual culture

    Natalia VieyraPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania, United States The etchings of Paul-Albert Besnard constitute a gruesome assemblage of nineteenth-century social ills—graphic depictions of the hard lives of women plagued by sickness, suicides, prostitution, infanticide, and poverty. Amid this collection of unfortunate modern imagery, an unusual etching featuring two fashionable Parisiennes stands out (Fig. 1). Who are these elegant…