4 doctor writers: Oliver Sacks, Paul Kalanithi, Gavin Francis and David Galler

Sue Wootton

There is a long and noble tradition of doctors who write about medicine. The best of this writing brings to the page powerful insights about what it means to be a human being—the kind of insights that are sparked when the steel of medical science is struck by the flint of medicine’s art. Language is one of the key medical arts, and memoir and essays make wonderful genres for the development of such sparks.

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The colours screamed: terror and creativity

Annette Rose

Scream MaskEveryone knows what a scream sounds like.  But do you know what it looks like?

This is what a scream looks like.

This is a mask from the Quake Mask Project, a mask-making project for children affected by the 2010-11 Christchurch earthquakes.

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Cyborgs on screen – and sitting next to us

Barbara Brookes

How many of us know people with an implant of some kind? Otago Professor of Neurosurgery, Dirk De Ridder, gave a fascinating address recently on the history of his field, noting that these days implants provide a way forward for a number of problems. Cochlear implants are one example, but there are many other bits of metal and plastic which are used to assist bodies to function, to do away with pain and for cosmetic enhancement. So the cyborg is amongst us—those with metal hips, plastic breasts, and implanted pacemakers sending out electrical pulses.

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Facing down Thanatos: the road to recovery in a landscape of ruin

Annette Rose

I heard it said recently that “imagination has taken a rest”, but has it? A mask making project in 2010-11 for children affected by the Christchurch earthquakes suggests otherwise. Here is one of my favourite mask stories from the Quake Mask Collection: a mask that illustrates a young person’s dialogue with death.  Continue reading “Facing down Thanatos: the road to recovery in a landscape of ruin”

Curricular Conundrums: the place of Humanities in Medicine 20 years on

Barbara Brookes and Charlotte Paul

Doctors' Stories ‘The Faculty of Medicine is undertaking major course revision’. This statement is from a 1995 University of Otago memo. Part of this revision focus was a proposal that the Humanities Division provide a suite of Elective papers for third year medical students. There was already a self-directed option on offer, in which—in consultation with a willing staff member—students had 10 hours a week for five weeks to follow a particular interest. As classes had grown in size, this system had become unwieldy and it was suggested that a more systematic programme of Humanities Electives would broaden students’ appreciation of the art, as well as the science, of medicine.

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How medicine killed my reading bug

Richard German

From as early as I can remember, I loved reading. Many of my early memories are associated with books. I always had a predilection for non-fiction, and my fiction tastes ran primarily to science fiction. Through my early and mid-teenage years the love affair with books continued, despite the predations of School Cert, University Entrance and Bursary.

But then I achieved my teenage ambition of gaining entry to medical school…

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Tour de face: making masks in a landscape of ruin

Mask 1Annette Rose

It is 22 February 2011 and my hometown of Christchurch has been unearthed by a series of devastating earthquakes. I have an idea for helping Cantabrian youngsters make sense of strange events: a ‘debrief and development’ mask-making project in schools.

Here is a hint at what the quake kids saw with their terror-blinded eyes, not only a tour de force but also a tour de face… Continue reading “Tour de face: making masks in a landscape of ruin”