Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: soul

  • Can headless martyrs really walk? The belief in cephalophores in the Middle Ages

    Andrew Wodrich Washington, DC   Saint Denis of Paris holding his severed head. Mid-15th century depiction from an illuminated prayer book (Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Ms. 5, fol. 35v, 84.ML.723.35v). The halos surrounding his decapitated head as well as the stump of his neck suggest that the soul and saintliness of St. Denis remain in…

  • Questioning immunology and the soul

    Vani GhaiPune, India The long and tiring battle with COVID has stimulated modern medicine to investigate new approaches to understanding the science of immunity. It has long been apparent that immune systems exist almost ubiquitously across the living and that all diseases involve the immune system. But even though immunology plays a decisive role in…

  • “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,…

  • The pineal: seat of the soul

    JMS Pearce Hull, England, United Kingdom   Fig 1. Pineal gland The pineal for millennia had been a structure of mystery. In Ancient Egyptian culture, The Eye of Horus was a sign of prosperity and protection, often referred to as the third eye. In Ayurvedic physiology it corresponds to the sixth chakra—Ajna, located in the…

  • Abhay Sadhak (fearless seeker): Baba Amte

    Utkarsh G. HingmireNagpur, India Murlidhar Devidas Amte, affectionately known as Baba Amte, was a lawyer who left his lucrative legal career to devote his life to the treatment of patients suffering from leprosy.1 If one was to describe his life in a few sentences it would be “I sought my soul, my soul I could…

  • Oliver Sacks and caring for the whole person

    Margaret Marcum Boca Raton, Florida   Body shapes, female. Martin Addison. Wellcome Collection. CC BY 4.0. The neurologist Oliver Sacks—“The Poet Laureate of Medicine” according to The New York Times—developed an effective clinical method of treating the patient as a complete person rather than as a defective body part. He wrote that clinicians “are concerned…

  • Pushing back into chaos

    Kyra McComasSalt Lake City, Utah, United States Pain is perhaps the most useful yet most feared human experience. It has been crucial to our evolutionary development, but the modern era has sought to expunge it. The New York Times has reported that scientists may be able to use the genes from a woman who feels…