On Iatrogenesis

Michelle Munyikwa // “Medicine changed me, but not in the ways I expected,” Rachel Pearson writes in her memoir of medical school, No Apparent Distress. The book is Pearson’s attempt to make sense of these changes, drawing the reader from her working class childhood to her unexpected presence in medical school and the events which…

Review: Cesarean Sections & Risk: Ongoing Evolution of a Procedure

John A. Carranza // On September 19, 2019, the website Motherly posted an article entitled “These Birth Photos Prove How Beautiful Clear Drape C-Sections Can Be.” Heather Marcoux, the author,  explained what “gentle cesarean sections” are and how they have come to transform the cesarean section procedure in contemporary medicine. Previously, the operation included physicians…

Mother-tales: otherness and doubt in the neonatal intensive care unit

Emily Wheater // Recently in Synapsis, Jessica M.E. Kirwan discussed the portrayal by male, Enlightenment-era physicians of mothers in obstetric texts and images. William Hunter’s illustrations of pregnant bodies are deeply dehumanising in their presentation of butchered female bodies, and gradually stripping away the mother’s body altogether leaving just the uterus behind. What a wonderful…

Review: The Undying

Josh Franklin // Review of Anne Boyer. The Undying. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2019. The Undying is a powerful memoir by poet Anne Boyer, describing her diagnosis of breast cancer and her subsequent treatment. Boyer struggles against the narrative confines of the illness experience as conventional and medicalized, writing, “I do not want to tell the…

Sewing the Tapestry of the History of Psychiatry: Anne Harrington’s ‘Mind Fixers’

David Robertson // Over the last twenty years, considerable scholarly contributions have been made to the history of psychiatry. We have had historical analyses of the concept of “nerves” and “neurasthenia,” of “trauma” and the emergence of diagnoses such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.[1] Historians have examined the material settings of neuropsychiatric efforts to localize brain…

Illness as Muse and the Poet-Physician: Rafael Campo’s Comfort Measures Only

Travis Chi Wing Lau // Rafael Campo. Comfort Measures Only: New & Selected Poems, 1994-2016. Durham: Duke University Press, 2018. “Illness is a problem for the human imagination only insomuch as we might seek dispassionately scientific methods to cure it while we avoid the inevitably destructive pressures it exerts on our fragile psyches.” – Rafael…

Medicine, Myth, Fairytale: On Joanna Pearson’s Every Human Love

Lauren A. Mitchell //      On the phone, Dr. Joanna Pearson softly chuckles. “My brother sometimes asks me what ‘psychiatrist Joanna’ would ask ‘author Joanna.’” It has been a while since we’ve spoken, but she is warm and upbeat, as I have known her to be. We are discussing her new short story collection, Every Human…