Rethinking the Language of Cancer Diagnosis

Steffi Mac // Recently, I was introduced to a young doctor who had survived cancer and who is now working on Covid-19 duty. I wanted to interview her in order to present her narrative in my online initiative for cancer survivors, The Marrow Story. I was also trying to understand the health care system of…

Narrative Humility or Empathy?

Marcus Mosley // In healthcare, there has been much debate about the role empathy plays in patient-doctor communication, and whether it can and should be taught to medical students. Narrative Medicine has “not found empathy to be a useful term” and claims empathy to be “a misguided assumption that one can enter into or know…

The Ethics of Feeding Tube Placement in Patients with Advanced Dementia

Joyeeta G. Dastidar // Dementia and the Loss of Descartes’s Attributes of the Soul One of the many disease processes physicians witness is what becomes of the body of someone with advanced dementia. Over time, there is a loss of many of the “attributes of the soul” René Descartes lists in his second meditation on…

Grief at a Distance

Sarah Roth // This week marks the anniversary of my mother’s death, and my family had planned to gather at her gravesite in Florida. For the past year, her plot has remained unmarked: a rectangle of grass with a hint of a pale line at its edges. We had spoken of unveiling the gravestone, attending a service to recognize her Yahrzeit, and coming together for a week of shared feeling and mourning. The past year has been measured with reference to this point, like the sign of a lighthouse marking a horizon thick with fog. Like so many other families in this season of coronavirus, as the date grew closer, our plans became ever more uncertain. Today, on her anniversary, we remain scattered across the country. Some of us are in Florida; others are in Washington or Colorado or Maryland. I write from my apartment in Baltimore, where I have hunkered down for the past months, and where I will remain for the foreseeable future.

On Penumbrae: Uncertainty in Neurology

Steve Server // You are sitting at your computer in the neurosciences work room late one evening writing a progress note when your pager buzzes.  A stroke code has been called in the Emergency Department.  You grab your reflex hammer and your tuning fork and head down to the ED.  The linoleum gives off a…

COVID-19 and the Future of Narrative Medicine

Dr. Iro Filippaki // The Covid-19 pandemic has illuminated the fact that medical culture and practice belongs to a complex system of ethics, signification, capitalist market, and political representation. This article considers how one of the pandemic’s legacies for narrative medicine might be to provide medical students with the theoretical and conceptual tools to deal…

Sex, Responsibility, & COVID-19

Dr. Brian J. Troth // In early 2020, the world turns its attention to the novel coronavirus that causes respiratory illness and, in the most malignant of cases, death. A maelstrom of information—of varying levels of veracity—inundates our news feeds everyday. In Ohio, where Governor DeWine has adopted an aggressive approach to containing the spread…

Reconstructing the Medical Community In 1427 Florence

Claire Litt // In 1427 Maestro Giovanni Bartolomeo, a doctor of good social standing, lived in the Leon Rosso Quarter of Santa Maria Novella in Florence (Castato ID: 50005679). It was a good neighbourhood–in fact, the richest family in Florence, the Strozzi, lived there. Unlike other Italian city-states, the Guild of Doctors and Apothecaries in…

Places and Spaces in the Danish Health Services Over Time

Anders Juhl Rasmussen, Associate Professor of Narrative Medicine, Department for the Study of Culture, SDU with Mogens Hørder, Professor, Research Unit of User Perspectives, SDU // The CHCI Medical and Health Humanities Network will soon hold its 2020 yearly Summer Institute, “Space, Place, and Design in Medical and Health Humanities,” at the University of Southern…

On the power of play

Steve Server // A critical part of pediatrics is mastering the physical exam. Kids are squirmy. They aren’t used to tolerating noxious stimuli—like instruments in ears or cold metal on skin—like adults are. Consequently, seasoned pediatricians have a box full of tricks to make for effective physical examinations for kids. Don’t rush immediately to place…