The Myth of Miscarriage: An Early Modern Legacy

If a medical school student or resident looked up “miscarriage” in the index of Blueprints Obstetrics & Gynecology (2013), they would be directed to “spontaneous abortion.” Denoting a pregnancy that ends before 20 weeks, spontaneous abortion occurs in 15% to 25% of all pregnancies, and this “number may be even higher because losses that occur... Continue Reading →

Teaching Invisibilia: Culture and Conceptions of Mind, Mental Illness and Sanity in the United States

Abigail Jane Mack In “The Power of Categories,” an early episode of NPR’s popular podcast, Invisibilia, Lulu Miller and Alix Spiegel spin a web of scientific inquiry and human interest stories to interrogate the role—the power—categories have in shaping our lives. They tell us how early infants learn to discriminate between cat and dog before... Continue Reading →

The Uncertainty of Medicine and Improv Comedy

  James Belarde "Medicine is a science of uncertainty and an art of probability." -William Osler The Big Sick, a 2017 romantic comedy written by husband-and-wife team Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon, tells the true story of a mysterious illness that strikes Emily early in their relationship. The doctors initially overwhelm her family with medical... Continue Reading →

Hypochondria and the Struggle for Control

Sneha Mantri One of the best-known literary depictions of hypochondria is Molière’s medical play, Le Malade imaginaire, which is occupied with the struggle for power between Argan, the titular “invalid,” and those who surround him. One reading of Argan focuses on his victimhood, arguing that the character believes so completely in his own illness that... Continue Reading →

The Unseen Trauma of Medical Illness

Bernard P. Chang In the aftermath of life-threatening events, such as heart attacks or strokes, many survivors are consumed by protracted medical evaluations, treatment regimens and lifestyle changes—all with the intention of reducing disease progression or the appearance of future medical events related to the initial bodily threat. The massive medical complex underlying our modern... Continue Reading →

What Does Defamiliarization Make Happen?

Anna Fenton-Hathaway I learned the literary term “defamiliarization” years after it had upended a tiny part of my worldview. Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty (1877), narrated by the horse of the title, was the vehicle for that early upending. One particularly heart-rending chapter meant that for years I could not look at a horse without being... Continue Reading →

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