Dr. Louise Hurrell and Dr. Inez Bentley in the men’s ward at an American Women’s Hospital in Luzancy, France, 1918
EmailTwitterFacebookDiggStumbleUponGoogle+

. . . Come on! Here is work! Here is opportunity! Here is equality of reward . . . when ‘the world is made safe for democracy,’ Democracy will be made safe for women.

— Dr. Frances Van Gasken, Professor of Clinical Medicine, Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, 1917

Nearly 70 years after women officially entered the medical profession, they still did not have the right to vote in the United States of America. Though the role and prominence of female physicians progressed parallel to and was sometimes intertwined with the struggle for equality, for many women — those working inside and outside the home — the right to vote was not necessarily a priority. But as women entered professions and the industrial workforce in increasing numbers and the United States engaged in war, American women were undertaking more than ever the responsibilities of citizenship without the accompanying rights. More… “The Hippocratic Vote”

Melissa M. Mandell is a Drexel University alum (Film & Video ‘97) and public historian who lives and writes in Philadelphia. She was most recently project manager for Doctor or Doctress: Explore American history through the eyes of women physicians, a digital history initiative of the Drexel University College of Medicine Legacy Center Archives and Special Collections. Contact her at melissa.mandell@gmail.com or on Twitter @PennyPuttanesca
EmailTwitterFacebookDiggStumbleUponGoogle+
RV_BAROT_BREATH_BF_001
EmailTwitterFacebookDiggStumbleUponGoogle+

Existential crises are by no means exclusive to students in the liberal arts (think the bearded Beat emanating a cloud of hand rolled tobacco smoke, nauseated by these two options: to drop out and hitchhike cross country or attend his Intro to Western Phil class). The burdens of years of scholarly toil, the substantial time in esoteric animal labs, the hypercompetitive pursuit of graduate study lead many students in the sciences to also question: What’s the point of it all? The rigors of the pursuit of knowledge as a means to a career in medicine weigh down too many bright young minds such that by the time the goal is met, the soul is bruised and weary. More… “Death Meets the Doctor”

Nikhil Barot, MD is Assistant Professor of Medicine at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine.
EmailTwitterFacebookDiggStumbleUponGoogle+
ID_PELISH_AGING_FI_001
EmailTwitterFacebookDiggStumbleUponGoogle+

In the very last volume of Proust’s very long novel, the narrator attends an afternoon party where everyone seems to be wearing a mask. He can recognize the voices of his long-ago friends and acquaintances, but their words issue from faces that are all strangely slackened and faded, or hardened and rigidified. They seem to be wearing powdered wigs. Even his host, having disguised himself in the same manner as his guests, appears to have taken on the role of one of the very last stages of the Ages of Man.

What has happened, of course, is the passage of time. These people have aged.

This quality of the aging face, in so many respects like a living mask, was something I had hardly considered until I began to notice the fine crosshatching beneath my own eyes and the first tracing of lines across my forehead. It was disconcerting, these creeping forerunners of age — of aging. The only face I had ever known as my own — a face resolutely unwrinkled for over three decades — was somehow being impinged upon, irreversibly. I knew that, unlike a spate of pimples or the red peel of sunburn, these new lines and creases were here to stay, and they would only grow more pronounced.
More… “The Aging Face”

Alyssa Pelish writes and edits in New York. Her essays, articles, fiction, and reviews have appeared in Harper’s, Slate, Science, The Quarterly Conversation, Denver Quarterly, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, among others.
EmailTwitterFacebookDiggStumbleUponGoogle+
attachment-1725

 

I can think of no better poster child for the Twelve Step addiction recovery plan than James Frey. This is despite the fact that Frey argued extensively against the Twelve Steps method in his addiction, uh, “memoir” A Million Little Pieces, calling it spiritual nonsense. He wrote, “I’d rather have [relapse and death] than spend my life in Church basements listening to People whine and bitch and complain. That’s not productivity to me, nor is it progress. It is the replacement of one addiction with another.” Frey instead decided he could beat his addiction through sheer willpower.

Soon after, there he was, revealed as a liar and fraud who exaggerated his addiction and melodramatized his rock bottom. If that is recovery through willpower, perhaps that surrendering your will to God thing is looking a little better now. Jody,… More…

The doctor being oneself.

 

In No Laughing Matter, the novelist Joseph Heller outed his friend Mel Brooks as a world-class hypochondriac. “He is the only person I’m acquainted with who subscribes to The Lancet,” Heller wrote. “Principles of Internal Medicine and Dorland’s Medical Dictionary are Mother Goose to him.” I grew up in a two-doctor home strewn with medical curiosities. Among my childhood toys were plastic models of inner ears, femurs, and gastrointestinal tracts. Every day, our postman delivered a stack of medical journals dense with text broken up by gruesome clinical photographs. Every morning while eating my Cheerios, I used the magazines as placemats, read the articles absentmindedly, and stole glances at repulsive skin conditions. When I left home to travel, the memory of those photographs kept me feeling healthy. When… More…

The pain is hell.

 

Gout is a strange, medieval type of medical condition that manifests without warning, often in a person’s big toe, of all places, and causes almost unbearable pain and suffering without being fatal. Gout disappears just as mysteriously, and always threatens to reappear at any time, like some sort of invisible, unreasonable, otherworldly punishment.

If ever there was a medical condition perfectly suited to myth and literature, gout is it. Not surprisingly, it has shown up among famous literary characters throughout the centuries, including Sir Leicester Dedlock of Dickens’ Bleak House and Casaubon in Eliot’s Middlemarch. It has also occurred throughout the ages among many literary writers themselves, as well among legendary leaders and intellectual giants, including John Milton, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Joseph Conrad, King Henry VIII of England, Martin Luther, Voltaire, Charles Darwin, Sir Isaac Newton, and Benjamin… More…

But it might actually have medical benefits.

 

Daily relaxation is now a doctor’s order. It comes from one of the most influential names in medicine, former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher. At a recent meeting of doctors and health policy makers, Satcher presented an amended version of his long-touted “prescription for health”. The prescription advises Americans to practice regular physical activity, eat fresh fruits and vegetables, avoid toxins like tobacco and illicit drugs, and be responsible in sexual behavior.

Recently, Satcher added a fifth item to the list: Participate in relaxing and stress-reducing activities daily. The benefits of relaxation, he said, are invaluable for good health, especially good mental health.

When I went to check the scientific basis of this welcome proclamation, I discovered that one of the most reliable methods of relaxation — meditation — had become a serious subject of scientific investigation in… More…

Sometimes the mind loses the important parts.

I have a poor memory for details. Just about everyone who knows me will say this is true. My husband loves to make me uncomfortable by quizzing me to name the band when a familiar song comes on the radio. He knows I almost never can recall it, even when the answer is ridiculously obvious. My family jokes that they don’t want to be on my team in Trivial Pursuit games. I often struggle to remember the names of books I’ve read, and their endings. The same goes for movies that I’ve watched, and the actors in them. I need a recipe just to make chocolate chip cookies I’ve made 100 times before. I have that constant tip-of-the-tongue problem remembering words.

It’s not that I don’t know anything or that I can’t learn — I know and learn lots, of course. I was a good student during my school days,… More…