Tag Archives: Winter 2021

Compassion

Charles Halsted Davis, California, United States   Formed and found in the human soul lies the wellspring of compassion. Seeing yourself in the other, the other in yourself is the essence of compassion. Selfless caring without condition for the unfortunate ones without voice, feeling the pain of another, accepting without judgment is compassion. Caring for […]

Rage against the machine

Kaitlin Kan Villanova, Pennsylvania, United States   Isle of Lethe, zentangle. Drawing by Kaitlin Kan. It was almost as if the neuromodulation clinic was the machine itself. The entire ward was U-shaped, with each arm housing preparation and recovery and the treatment suite nestled in the middle. Each patient was scheduled to the moment; nurses […]

Companionable books

“Many books are dry and dusty, there is no juice in them; and many are soon exhausted, you would no more go back to them than to a squeezed orange; but some have in them an unfailing sap, both from the tree of knowledge and from the tree of life. “By companionable books I mean […]

Emblems and psychological medicine on the Sutton Hoo purse

Stephen Martin Durham, England, and Thailand   The recent film The Dig1 has brought into the wider public eye the story of an Anglo-Saxon ship burial.2 The burial mound, at Sutton Hoo, in Sussex, England,3,4 contained a high-status figure, almost certainly Royal. The most expensive of the grave goods5 are high-craftsmanship gold, set with very […]

Encephalitis lethargica

Front page of Encephalitis lethargica. Its sequelae and treatment by Constantin Von Economo, 1931. Via Wikimedia. Encephalitis lethargica was a worldwide epidemic during the years 1918-1930 that resembled influenza. It was first described in Vienna in 1916 by Constantin von Economo in thirteen patients suffering from unusual neurological symptoms that he thought constituted a new […]

Ancient Greek plague and coronavirus

Patrick Bell Belfast, Northern Ireland   Plague in an Ancient City by Michael Sweerts, ca 1650. Credit Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Introduction Homer’s Iliad, Sophocles’ Oedipus the King, and Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War have been termed “the three earliest, and arguably most influential, representations of the plague in Western narrative.”1 This […]

The loneliness of the long-living doctor

Peter Arnold Sydney, Australia   Study of the head of an old man. Peter Paul Rubens. between 1610 and 1615. Kunsthistorisches Museum. Via Wikimedia. A noticeable phenomenon of the twenty-first century is the increasing frequency of friendships between older men. The importance of such friendships to both mental and physical health has been well documented.1,2,3 […]

To wear or not to wear? Attitudes towards mask wearing then and now

Mariella Scerri Victor Grech Mellieha, Malta   In September 1918, the Red Cross recommended two-layer gauze masks to halt the spread of “plague.” Image: Public Domain via Wikimedia. More than a century ago, as the 1918 influenza pandemic raged around the globe, masks of gauze and cheesecloth became the facial frontlines in the battle against […]

Selman Waksman, “father of antibiotics” and conquest of tuberculosis

[Dr. Selman Waksman, half-length portrait, facing left at work in the laboratory] / World Telegram & Sun photo by Roger Higgins. 1953. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Selman Abraham Waksman came to the United States in 1910 and worked for a few years on a farm in New Jersey. Born in a rural […]

The derailment of Franklin Pierce

Jacob Appel  New York, New York, United States   Pres. Franklin Pierce. neg. from original ink by Brady. [between 1855 and 1865]. Part of Brady-Handy photograph collection. From the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Few subjects have attracted as much attention from medical historians, both well-founded and speculative, as the health of United States presidents. […]