Medical Sensations – An Opportunity for a Medical Humanities Engagement

Amala Poli // I recently visited the Canadian Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa to explore the Medical Sensations exhibition, curated by David Pantalony and launched in November, 2017. The curation of this exhibition reveals a profound engagement with medical humanities by enabling the visitor to interact with medical culture. Organized around the five senses,…

The Ethnographer’s Dilemma [Part 2]: “the field”

“Our medium, our canvas, is “the field,” a place both proximate and intimate (because we have lived some part of our lives there) as well as forever distant and unknowably “other” (because our own destinies lie elsewhere).” (Scheper-Hughes xii) For ethnographers, “the field” is an environment where we spend countless hours participating in and observing…

Let’s teach doctors there are more ways of knowing

Almost three years ago exactly, I published an essay here on Synapsis titled “In Defense of Humoralism.”  In it—to briefly summarize—I highlighted how common ways in which patients understand the etiology of their illnesses and formulate folk treatments can often be understood as humoralistic.  Consequently, physicians dismiss these ideas as superstition, as they do not…

A Different Gaze

  Foucault was a French philosopher known for his interrogation of knowledge and structures of power. In Birth of the Clinic (1973) he described how the medical gaze arose from 18th-century dissection, which exposed ‘what for centuries had remained below the threshold of the visible and expressible’ developing further through 19th-century pathological anatomy, which reduced…

Suspicious Findings

One summer morning, I found myself in the hollow tube of an MRI. A technician pressed foam earplugs into my ears, gingerly placing oversized headphones on top. The hospital’s artificial breeze rustled my gown. Into the imaging machine I went: face down, breasts out. As contrast dye entered my veins, I tasted metal. A symphony…

Please open with a vivid and compelling short story of a patient encounter

The textbooks that I used as a medical student in the 1990s were illustrated with photographs of real patients. I can vividly recall the images of three depicted patients, stripped naked, standing with their palms facing upwards, posed with their hands by their sides and feet shoulder width apart like Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man….

Finding Sick: Dispatches from the Emergency Department

Steve Server// At about 3:30 am during my first week in the Emergency Department, I realized that the space was different from anywhere else in the hospital.  Though it was my second night shift in a row, I wasn’t tired.  Or if I was tired, there were too many signals, too many sights and sounds and feelings…

“If It Is an Emergency, Please Call 911”: Framing Mental Health in Syllabi

Trigger warning: discussions of suicidality. Like many students, the first time I had access to therapy and other mental health services was when I studied at a university that had those services on campus (which was, for lots of complicated reasons, not until graduate school). Like many students, I’ve spent about as much time on various mental health waitlists as I have in any kind of treatment.

Brief reflections on forging a career in humanities & health

//emilieegger This journal is a deep repository of reflections on living the health-humanities: as providers, scholars, thinkers, and recipients of health care. I’d like to add to this conversation with thoughts on what it has looked like for me to forge a career that centers the humanities in the questions of health care. More than…

The Spaces Between

Jac Saorsa, Artist-Residence// Recent health problems have weakened me a little … sapped my energy and left me feeling somewhat detached from the reality I have been living in. But the new reality, the different way of understanding myself has forced me, gently, to consider my own mortality from a deeply personal perspective. Two ways…