Tag Archives: Winter 2014

Anesthesia: culture, technology, and the rise of the surgeon

Suzanne Raga New Jersey, USA   A depiction of eye surgery c. 1195 The introduction of new technologies such as surgical anesthesia has led to better methods of diagnosis and treatment, but it also shows that the relationship between medical theory and practice is not always a smooth one. Surprisingly, anesthesia was first used for […]

The boys’ club

Laura Hirshbein Michigan, Ann Arbor, United States   Galen of Pergamon, the most famous medical researcher of classical antiquity Lithograph by Pierre Roche Vigneron, c. 1865. In 1914, a group of fraternity men from the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor, Michigan, decided they needed more influence at the school. One of the […]

Behind the pep: modern and postmodern perspectives in Lydia E. Pinkham Medicine Company’s advertising

Ann W. Robinson New York, New York, USA At face value, the 1930s advertisement for Lydia E. Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound (to the right) elicits mild laughter and dismay. It can easily be interpreted as a sexist, scientifically unsound piece of medical propaganda laced with conformist social ideals, indicative of the era in which it was […]

Ambiguity-based evidence

Wolfgang Lederer Austria   I still ask myself whether medicine has anything to do with ethics or whether it does not. Ethical considerations, after all, are derived from philosophy, usually reflecting the values held by a community, often dictated by community leaders or religious authorities, economic considerations, and majority opinion. This implies that ethical values […]

I’m not sure I’m so ethical

Paul Kettl Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA   An abandoned mental hospital. Photography by Jarle Naustvik I’m not sure I’m so ethical. Don’t get me wrong. I think I’m a good doctor, and I don’t do bad things like sleep with my patients, beat my wife, or kick the dog. But I’m just not sure anymore I’m […]

Neurologica – disorders of the dream world

Shameemah Abrahams Cape Town   A portrait of the pioneering neurologist, Jean-Martin Charcot, who was well-known for characterising multiple sclerosis and hysteria. The human mind, so capable of creating works of genius like the orchestral sounds of Beethoven’s symphonies, da Vinci’s enigmatic artwork, or the majestic pyramids of Giza, can easily lose itself and spiral […]

A tribe’s fattening culture and its impact on health

Victor John Etuk Daura, Nigeria   When nineteenth century European explorers began to colonize West Africa, they were shocked by the corpulence of the Efik people of the Nigerian coast–over seventy percent of the population weighed more than ninety kilograms.1,2 Little did the Europeans know that fattening rituals took place behind closed doors, which largely […]

Children do not die

Matko Marusic Croatia   Photography by S GLeisner Josip was just one of the boys who lived in our street, but to me he was and still is especially important. It was through him that I, for the first time, encountered an incurable disease; he was the first person I wanted to help, and was […]

What’s old is new again: quackery in the age of the Internet

Lawrence Jones Hershey, Pennsylvania, United States   Edgar Cayce (1877-1945) The term “quack” is generally used to describe promoters of treatments and devices that have no acknowledged beneficial medical use. The advent of improved medical care and technology during the latter half of the 19th century through the first half of the 20th century was […]

The second chart

Irene Martinez Chicago, Illinois, United States   Caption: Photography by Keith Williamson When I arrived at the clinic, I was already behind schedule. I got up at 5:30 to get ready, but with my daughter’s end of the year school trip made things more complicated. I was already rushing when I got to the clinic, […]