Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: Winter 2024

  • “Get well soon”: Rapid recovery in two children’s novels

    Emily BoyleDublin, Ireland The sudden recovery of paralyzed patients is as thrilling as it is unlikely and has often been memorably portrayed in books and film. Some paralysis, such as occurs after spinal cord injury, is permanent. However, gradual physiologic recovery from a paralyzing condition such as a stroke is well recognized, usually with intensive…

  • Herophilus, the true father of anatomy?

    Philip LiebsonChicago, Illinois, United States Although Andreas Vesalius has been considered the modern father of anatomy, long before his time there lived a Greek anatomist and physician, Herophilus (?335–255 BC), who was accused of human vivisection. He may be the true father of anatomy because of his contributions to the understanding and differentiation of organ…

  • From “punch drunk” to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)

    James L. FranklinChicago, Illinois, United States At a critical moment in the second act of Terrance Blanchard’s opera Champion, based on the life of the boxer Emile Alphonse Griffith, Emile’s trainer Howie Albert asks the fighter, whose boxing career is in a steep decline, if he can remember a sequence of three simple words: “school,…

  • William P. Murphy Jr., MD: Physician-inventor

    Howard FischerUppsala, Sweden “…An unqualified success.”– Dr. Murphy on the testing of blood bags during the Korean War It is perhaps no coincidence that the son of the physician who revolutionized the treatment of pernicious anemia should likewise have been an inventor. By the time he died in 2023 at the age of 100, Dr.…

  • A migrant worker’s journey to becoming a brain surgeon

    Saahas KumbamuSt. Johns, Florida, United States A year ago my parents gifted me Becoming Dr. Q: My Journey from Migrant Farm Worker to Brain Surgeon,the autobiography of Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, co-written by Mim Eichler Rivas. The book chronicles the remarkable journey of Dr. Q from Mexican migrant farm worker in Mendota, California to an esteemed…

  • Measles again

    JMS PearceHull, England “Measles is tearing through the UK, spooking health chiefs and parents alike.”– Daily Mail, 25 Jan 2024 Measles is notoriously infectious. Ninety percent of people exposed to an infected person will contract the disease. In many countries, because of misguided anti-vaccine activists, Measles Mumps Rubella (MMR) vaccination rates have fallen in recent…

  • The musical and medical journey of Jean Sibelius

    Michael YafiChaden YafiHouston, Texas, United States The Finnish composer Jean Sibelius (1865–1957), one of the twentieth century’s greatest composers, was known for his ability to capture the stark beauty of his country’s landscapes through his unique, austere musical style. Born into a family with diverse talents, his father, Christian Gustaf, served as a municipal and…

  • Did Chopin die from tuberculosis?

    Philip LiebsonChicago, Illinois, United States Frederic Chopin, remembered for his brilliant piano works, suffered from a chronic illness leading to a short life of only thirty-nine years. Yet he lived longer than Mozart, Schubert, Mendelssohn, or George Gershwin. Born in a suburb of Warsaw, he was sickly even as a youth and appeared on the…

  • Spirit possession in Jewish folklore: The dybbuk

    Howard FischerUppsala, Sweden In the folklore of both Eastern European and Mediterranean Jews, a certain kind of possession was considered a real threat. A demon called a “dybbuk” was a malicious, possessing spirit, believed to be the soul or ghost of a dead, sinful person. The dybbuk was almost always the spirit of a Jewish…

  • Tea with Walter de la Mare by Russell Brain

    JMS PearceHull, England “The little nowhere of the brain” Many physicians have dabbled in literature and the arts, or as “medical truants” have abandoned medicine for such ventures. A unique collaboration of medicine and literature was the friendship and exchange of diverse stories and speculative ideas of human experience between the eminent neurologist Walter Russell…