Tag Archives: Winter 2017

Hawthorne’s The Birthmark: a failure to find a perfect future in an imperfect present

Sylvia Karasu New York City, New York, United States   In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Birthmark, 1 Aylmer, “a man of science” leaves the somber, factory-like atmosphere of his laboratory to marry the beautiful Georgiana.  Aylmer “had devoted himself, however, too unreservedly to scientific studies ever to be weaned from them by any secondary passion,” and […]

The first general hospital of Baghdad

Hussain Al-Sardar England, United Kingdom   In 1872, Midhat Pasha, the governor of Baghdad, noticed the high prevalence of disease among the city’s population as well as the abuse of patients by conjurers, quibblers, and equivocators. He built the first hospital in the city on the Al kargh side of the river Tigris, which divides […]

The Hogmouths of Habsburg

Craig Blackstone Bethesda, Maryland, United States   1670 Austrian 3 Kreuzer coin.[i] Image by Craig Blackstone. Coins are miniature works of art. Since portraits of prominent individuals have graced coins for millennia, images forged in precious metals in the distant past can represent disease even now. Indeed, the earliest artistic depictions of disorders such as […]

Choose your poison: the curious case of Dr. Waite

Lisa Mullenneaux New York, NY, USA   Portrait of Arthur W. Waite With mahogany dining rooms, wall safes, a chauffeur’s lounge, and a curved façade designed to catch summer breezes off the Hudson River, Manhattan’s Colosseum apartments set a new standard of elegant living. Newlyweds Clara and Arthur W. Waite chose one of the deluxe full-floor, […]

Stephen Hales: the priest who pioneered clinical physiology

JMS Pearce Hull, United Kingdom   As a student I learned about Stephen Hales as the parish priest who first measured blood pressure — in a horse’s leg. The mists of time and waning memory have made his several astonishingly original works unknown to many. Samuel Johnson’s famous dictionary made few references to individuals, but […]

Scarification: harmful cultural practice or vehicle to higher being?

Kenneth Michael Felsenstein Bethesda, Maryland, United States Scarification is the act of “covering, disguising and transforming the body”1 by creating wounds in one’s own flesh in order to cause indelible markings. It is perhaps one of the most misunderstood body modification procedures done today, largely perceived in Western society as a tabooed and harmful cultural practice.2 […]

Echocardiogram: the first ultrasound picture of the moving heart

Göran Wettrell Sweden   Figure 1. The first recorded echocardiogram from 29 October 1953. Upper panel echo from anterior chestwall (E1) to the posterior wall of the left ventricle (E2). Lower panel echo (E2) of the posterior left ventricular wall recorded at a larger scale (cm).  Image from the South Swedish Society of Medical History. […]

Aging in (another) place: Magda Szabo’s novel Iza’s Ballad

Carol Levine New York, New York, United States   Imprint II. Copyright 2017 Kelsey Hochstatter Represented by Third and Wall Art Group LLC, Seattle WA In Hungary in the early 1960s, Izabella (Iza) Szöcs is a physician, and a very good one, according to her patients and peers. Her specialty is rheumatology, but she makes […]

Wounded deer—medical aspects of the life of Frida Kahlo

Portrait of Frida Kahlo by Guillermo Kahlo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons Farrah Jawad London, UK   “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.”  Frida Kahlo Frida Kahlo was born Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderon in Coyocan, Mexico City, on July 6, 1907, to […]

Philosophy of science and medicine X: Aristotle to the early 20th Century

Philip Liebson Chicago, Illinois, United States   Aristotle What is natural law? There are certain values in human nature that can be understood through human reason. This implies the use of reason to evaluate binding rules of moral behavior. Inherent in the use of reason, from the Greek philosophers onward, at least in Western Civilization, […]