Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: Winter 2022

  • Louis Braille: wondrous gift, punishing recipe

    Lauren HillWalnut Cove, North Carolina, United StatesJack RiggsMorgantown, West Virginia, United States “… as need, the mother of all inventions, taught them …”— Thomas Hobbs, from Leviathan Helen Keller is reputed to have said, “We the blind are as indebted to Louis Braille as mankind is to Gutenberg.”1 The life of Louis Braille (1809–1852), complete…

  • The wounds of Christ and Prometheus – two of a kind?

    Julia van RosmalenThomas van GulikAmsterdam, Netherlands The myth of Prometheus has been a source of inspiration for many visual artists over the centuries. Prometheus, a Titan, was punished by the supreme god Zeus for giving to mankind the Olympic fire, with which they learned to think and feel. He was chained to a cliff in…

  • “Killed By Vaccination”: the enduring currency of a nineteenth century illogic

    Saty Satya-Murti Santa Maria, California, United States   Fig. 1. William Young’s 1886 pamphlet alleging that smallpox vaccinations slaughter and kill. Source: Wellcome Collection. In Public Domain. Vaccine misinformation and anti-vaccination conspiracy theories are not new but have acquired a combative energy during the Covid-19 pandemic. Nearly all the arguments now raised against vaccination were…

  • An avalanche of white tissues

    Gail GhaiSarasota, Florida, United States He gives me a golden pearl to vanquish the sputtering sputum cough. A red tablet to quell the scarlet flushing, and an ivory capsule to squash the bronchial terrorists that have invaded the walls of my chest. He crushes ice for lemonade to drown the cactus spines in my throat.…

  • Book review: Female innovators who changed our world: how women shaped STEM

    Arpan K. BanerjeeSolihull, England, United Kingdom STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) play an important part in our lives. The march of scientific and technological progress continues unabated and is responsible for revolutionizing life in the modern world. But schools, universities, and professional societies worldwide lament that not enough female pupils enter careers in these…

  • A note on Joseph Jules Dejerine (1849–1917)

    JMS PearceHull, England, United Kingdom In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, medicine in Paris flourished.1 Under the charismatic Charcot, it matched or excelled the contemporary advances in Germany and Britain. In the footsteps of Cruveilhier, Gratiolet, and Vicq d’Azyr came Charcot, Vulpian, Pierre Marie, Babinski, Gilles de la Tourette, and Sigmund Freud, who…

  • Piano lessons

    James Stemmle West Virginia, United States   Watercolor by author. The piano teacher was angry, irritable, incontinent, and in pain. Dying of cancer, she eventually went home with hospice care. The hospice lady asked, “What would a good day look like?” They rigged things in her home to live at least one good day: a…

  • Hieroglyphics

    Gail GhaiSarasota, Florida, United States The room shuffles nervously as the oncologist takes the microphone. He’s the first speaker at the breast cancer lecture and he does not hesitate. Opens with a memorable phrase: Cancer comes to the warm parts of the body. I’ve read that ancient Egyptians noted how malignancy loved those cozy corners…

  • Movie review: Pressure Point – treating the hateful patient

    Howard FischerUppsala, Sweden “You sing ‘My country ’tis of thee’ while they walk all over you.”— The patient, Pressure Point Pressure Point (1962) is a “doctor movie” that is “all but unknown to the general public.”1 This is unfortunate, since it contains important messages as well as some splendid acting. The story is told as…

  • Xenotransfusion: blood from animals to humans

    The idea of infusing the blood of animals into humans was first proposed in 1658 by the French monk Dom Robert des Gabets soon after William Harvey’s discovery of the circulation of the blood. Experiments consisting of transfusing blood from one species to another followed. In 1665 in Oxford Richard Lower transfused blood from one…