Pain is complex. We should treat it that way.

Steve Server// “What sort of pain is it?” Often, when health care providers inquire after patients’ pain, we get a sort of flummoxed look.  In response, we sometimes get a confused chuckle. As first year medical students, we are trained to differentiate sorts of pain: crampy vs. electrical/burning; dull vs. sharp; localized vs. radiating.  As our medical…

Cultivating Life After Death

Avril Tynan // “Death is not an event in life,” wrote philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein in the early 20th century, “We do not live to experience death” (6.4311). Of course, Wittgenstein could not know that 100 years later we would be living through a pandemic, but if Covid-19 has taught us anything, it is that death…

Narrative Medicine Spring Basic Virtual Workshop: A Brief Reflection

Amala Poli // On March 19th, I began attending a three-day Basic Narrative Medicine (NM) Workshop. Like much else in academia during the Covid-19 pandemic, the workshop was held virtually via Zoom sessions. Having attended panels and conferences in the last year on Zoom, I wondered about how this would translate the experience of being…

Measures of success

Madeleine Mant // Tell me what the measurement is. Tell me why the measurement is important. Ask if it’s okay with me that you take this measurement. I teach Laboratory Methods in Biological Anthropology, an undergraduate course divided into three units: dietary recall and analysis, anthropometry (measurements and proportions of the human body), and accelerometry…

Against the Return to Normal: Trauma and Human Sociality

Bojan Srbinovski // The past three months have given people in the United States good reasons for cautious optimism. After a disastrous winter season that saw the number of recorded cases of COVID-19 rise over 300,000 per day and the total number of deaths exceed half a million people, the pandemic and the country seem…

Hope on Trial

Sarah Roth // My parents shared a broad, brown desk in their home office. In the years of my mother’s struggle with ovarian cancer, a foot of papers, envelopes, and printouts were stacked on the desk, documenting clinical trials for which she might be eligible. For a time, the desk, with its thick layer of…

Roundtable: Medical Humanities and Visual Culture (Part I)

Editor’s note: This two-part roundtable features critiques of contemporary visual culture as seen through a medical humanist lens. In Part I, below, Laila Knio and Alyson Lee draw on the scholarship of sociologist Arthur Frank to interpret how pharmaceutical advertising depicted mental illness among Black Americans in the 1970s and plastic surgery for young South…

Roundtable: Medical Humanities and Visual Culture (Part II)

Editor’s note: This two-part roundtable features critiques of contemporary visual culture as seen through a medical humanist lens. Part I drew on research in sociology to interpret pharmaceutical advertising. In Part II, below, Leah Rosen and Lilli Schussler tackle questions of the reproduction and extension of human life: Rosen in the context of 1930s popular…