Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: Summer 2021

  • The migraine aura and royal astronomers

    JMS Pearce Hull, England, United Kingdom   Fig 1. George Airy’s visual hallucinations from London, Edinb., and Dubl. Phil. Mag., ser. 4, 80: 19-21, 1865. reproduced in Jarcho S.11 Spleen sighs for ever on her pensive bed, Pain at her side and megrim at her head. — “Rape of the Lock”, Alexander Pope (1688-1744)  …

  • Essential tremor in a medieval scribe: extracting hidden historical knowledge from the work of the Tremulous Hand

    Andrew Wodrich Washington DC, United States   Annotations and Glosses of the Tremulous Hand. An anonymous homily contained within Bodleian Library MS. Hatton 113, f. 68r – written approximately 1075 AD in Old English – shows the characteristic shaky script of the thirteenth-century scribe known as the Tremulous Hand. These additions are likely to have…

  • Broca’s Brains: A lesson in the importance of saving the history of neuroscience

    Richard Brown Halifax, NS, Canada Thalia Garvock-de Montbrun Montreal, QC, Canada   Figure 1. Brain of patient (Lelong) with aphasia studied by Broca. Photo taken by Richard Brown May 2017. Recent fires at the National Museum of Brazil and at the University of Cape Town in South Africa1,2 have shown the fragility of rare books,…

  • Matron Charlotte Evelyn Nelson (1938-1954) and her portrait by Alice Burton

    Frederick John O’Dell Northampton, United Kingdom   Miss C E Nelson, 1955, by Alice Burton. Northampton General Hospital private collection. Image photograph by the author. Charlotte Evelyn Nelson (1894-1959) was born on 13 July 1894 in Hull. Before her sixth birthday she was orphaned, as the 1901 census lists her at the Hull Seamans and…

  • Beloved physicians: Three unsung heroes

    John RaffenspergerFort Meyers, Florida, United States Few doctors, especially those who practice in small communities across the land, are remembered for their selfless, unstinting devotion to their patients. They are not considered heroes in the usual sense and sadly, for the most part, are now replaced by dehumanizing corporate medicine. The general practitioner or “GP”…

  • The intricate forest of the neuron

    Silvia Maina Torino, Italia   A Purkinje neuron from the human cerebellum. Ink drawing by Santiago Ramón y Cajal. Via Wikimedia. Public domain. Entering the room, I was welcomed by some small and attractive ink drawings. In the first, like a genealogical tree or a medieval miniature, thin branches stretched to fill the frame. In the…

  • What’s inside us?: Socio-cultural themes in anatomical naming

    Frazer A. TessemaChicago, Illinois, United States Anatomical terms often read as Latin or Greek gibberish whose main purpose is to be obscure trivia in the first-year medical school ritual called anatomy class. But a surprising trend emerges through the English translations of these archaic names: many parts of the human body are named not for…

  • “Troubled in my eyes”: the risks of reading and writing

    Katherine HarveyLondon, England, United Kingdom On January 1, 1660, a young Londoner named Samuel Pepys began to keep a diary. Over the next nine and a half years, he recorded both events of national significance—the Restoration of King Charles II, the Great Plague, and the Great Fire—as well as the minutiae of his private life,…

  • Eye contact: a gateway to empathy

    David Jeffrey Edinburgh, United Kingdom   Bradley by David Jeffrey “Do you think I needed anticoagulants for my atrial fibrillation?” I asked the general practitioner. He stared at his computer screen, and answered without looking at me. “No-one knows for sure. I will print out a recent article which you can read at home and then…

  • Trijntje Keever—a tall tale

    Orit Pinhas-Hamiel Hamiel Uri Tirosh Amit Ramat Gan, Israel   A life-size painting of Trijntje Keever. Unknown Painter. 1633. Via Wikimedia. There is a life-size painting in the city of Edam in The Netherlands that portrays a girl who is exceptionally tall with disproportionately long hands. The artist is unknown, but the name of the…