Coffee with a Colleague: Physician, Author, and Educator, Jay Baruch, MD

Sarah Berry // This interview series features educators, scholars, artists, and healthcare providers whose work is vital to the growth of the health humanities. On Thursday, May 12, I interviewed Dr. Jay Baruch about his forthcoming essay collection Tornado of Life (MIT Press, August 2022), as well as medicine, narrative, and the role of writing…

Grief and the Medical Humanities

Diana Novaceanu // The ultimate goal of all art is relief from suffering and the rising above it. (Gustav Mahler)  One sunny day, towards the end of March, I suffered the loss of someone very dear to me. It had not been unexpected; I had the privilege to say good-bye in person. Everything medically possible…

He says he’s never been to Costa Rica …

Dr Jac Saorsa, Artist-in-Residence// ‘I tell him all about Cyprus, and Lisbon, and Costa Rica … I tell him about the small town on the Caribbean coast called Puerto Viejo, where the jungle meets the sea with only a dirt road and a beach of pure black carbon sand in between … He says he’s…

Medicine’s martial metaphors: “Fighting the good fight”

Steve Server // In 1977’s Illness as Metaphor, Susan Sontag offered a prescription for the “most truthful way of regarding illness—and the healthiest way of being ill” (3).  As Sontag noted, some of the ways in which humans make meaning on “the night-side of life” may hamper our ability to suffer in a “healthy” way (3).  “As long…

on justice & care

Michelle Munyikwa // Several months ago, I spent some clinical time working on a service with patients being evaluated for organ transplantation. Between the complex medical decision-making and challenging social negotiations that entail transplant evaluation, the social issues are infinitely more subjective and fraught. Everything from the substance use histories to the employment history to…

Why We Tell Stories

Nitya Rajeshuni // “Long before I wrote stories, I listened for stories. Listening for them is something more acute than listening to them. I suppose it’s an early form of participation in what goes on. Listening children know stories are there. When their elders sit and begin, children are just waiting and hoping for one…

Book Review: Narrative Art and the Politics of Health

Steven Rhue //  Narrative Art and the Politics of Health stands out as wonderful collection of essays that unites disparate stories of health and wellbeing entangled with in the politics of medicine and healing. Brooks and Blanchette have carefully organized this assortment of writings in three thematic divisions. Part 1 of the volume concerns institutional narratives that confront…

a mature defense

Michelle Munyikwa // “The secret source of Humor is not joy but sorrow.” — Mark Twain, as quoted in Laughter Out of Place “You know, Michelle,” my senior resident said, in that didactic tone of voice that educators often use when they are about to drop some wisdom, “humor is a mature defense.“ We had…