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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Perspectives in Medical Humanities

The University of California Medical Humanities Consortium was founded in January 2010 through a grant from UC’s Office of the President, establishing it as a Multicampus Research Program. Recognizing that the medical humanities was pursued at multiple UC medical schools and health science centers, faculty directors from UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Irvine, and UCSF can now support collaborative student research projects, publications, and resources for courses and public events.

Our aim is to have a substantial record of achievement and innovation in particular themes that we collectively pursue through our allocated research funding at the end of our five year grant period. We then hope to expand our efforts to include faculty and students at the remaining UC health science centers to promote an even more rigorous and representative approach to supporting humanism in medicine and health science education.

Cover page of Humanitas: Readings in the Development of the Medical Humanities

Humanitas: Readings in the Development of the Medical Humanities

(2015)

This reader reprints critical essays published over the course of a 100-year history that grapple with the challenges of defining and justifying the presence of humanities instruction in medical education. It provides insights to some of the newer approaches that branch out from the familiar subjects of history and literature to include theater, art, poetry, and disability studies. With a comprehensive historiographical introduction as well as prefaces to each article, including new reflections by many of the authors themselves, the volume enables reflection on how the diversity of disciplinary perspectives and multiplicity of theoretical frameworks relate to each other historically and thematically. This volume is an invaluable resource for anyone engaged with humanities in health care education.

Cover page of Tell Me Again: Poetry and Prose from The Healing Art of Writing, 2012

Tell Me Again: Poetry and Prose from The Healing Art of Writing, 2012

(2013)

For more than a decade The Healing Art of Writing conference has sought to strengthen compassionate understanding between healthcare providers and those who seek a state of well-being beyond the reach of surgery or pharmacology. Together, the participants share the belief that being cured of disease is not the same thing as being healed, and that a practice of expressive writing promotes both spiritual and physical healing. The writings presented at the 2012 conference, collected here in Tell Me Again, are a powerful testament to that belief. Within these pages you will hear, again and again, words of truth, words that uplift, words that heal.

Cover page of Bioethics and Medical Issues in Literature

Bioethics and Medical Issues in Literature

(2013)

Many of the bioethical and medical issues challenging society today have been anticipated and addressed in literature ranging from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Albert Camus’s The Plague, to Margaret Edson's Wit. The ten works of fiction explored in this book stimulate lively dialogue on topics like bioterrorism, cloning, organ transplants, obesity and heart disease, sexually transmitted diseases, and civil and human rights. This interdisciplinary and multicultural approach introducing literature across the curricula helps students master medical and bioethical concepts brought about by advances in science and technology, bringing philosophy into the world of science.

Cover page of The Firefly Project: Conversations about what it means to be alive

The Firefly Project: Conversations about what it means to be alive

(2013)

The Firefly Project: Conversations about what it means to be alive, presents true dialogues about living and dying, hopes and dreams, grief and loss. These stories show human beings connecting through the old-fashioned art of letter-writing. Adults with life-threatening illnesses move beyond ideas of themselves as ill or disabled, and discover they have much to give back. Their correspondents – teenagers and medical students, none of whom have yet met their pen pals in person – discover empathy and find time to focus on others rather than exclusively their own thoughts and concerns, grappling with difficult questions about patients’ experiences. The Firefly Project has become a repository of intergenerational dialogues full of rare and compassionate insights into the meaning of life, illness, and death.

Cover page of Health Travels: Cuban Health(care) On and Off the Island

Health Travels: Cuban Health(care) On and Off the Island

(2013)

This collection of essays challenges static and binary discourses regarding the Cuban healthcare system, bringing together papers that paint a nuanced and dynamic picture of the intricacies of Cuban health(care) as it is represented and experienced both on the island and around the world.

Cover page of The Supreme Triumph of the Surgeon's Art': Narrative History of Endocrine Surgery

The Supreme Triumph of the Surgeon's Art': Narrative History of Endocrine Surgery

(2013)

Endocrine surgery – the subspecialty of general surgery involving diseases of the thyroid, parathyroid, and adrenal glands as well as the endocrine pancreas – is a rapidly growing field of medicine that has a rich and fascinating history. As recently as the mid-19th Century, surgery for thyroid goiter was described as “horrid butchery” and believed by many to be too dangerous for any surgeon to attempt. Through the ingenuity and tireless efforts of surgeons in Europe and the U.S., thyroidectomy became a safe and even elegant operation, one that renowned Johns Hopkins surgeon William Halsted would describe in 1926 as representing “the supreme triumph of the surgeon’s art.” In this unique and captivating book, these and other seminal stories from the history of endocrine surgery are vividly retold by the current leaders in the field.

Cover page of To Feel What Others Feel: Social Sources of the Placebo Effect

To Feel What Others Feel: Social Sources of the Placebo Effect

(2013)

How is it that people in search of healing were at one time able to experience the therapeutic effects of "animal magnetism"? The evidence suggests that those who went in for treatments we would now call placebos didn’t feign their sensations but felt what they supposed others felt; they reacted as social beings. In one way or another, so do we today. But while the feeling of membership buoys us and may contribute to health, that is not all it can do, medically speaking. In this study a humanist looks at the placebo effect, taking into account both its history and its ambiguity and bringing out the more questionable potential of some health fashions, trends, and movements of our own time.

Cover page of Patient Poets; Illness from Inside Out

Patient Poets; Illness from Inside Out

(2012)

Patient Poets: Illness from Inside Out invites readers to consider what caregivers and medical professionals may learn from poetry by patients. It offers reflections on poetry as a particularly apt vehicle for articulating the often isolating experiences of pain, fatigue, changed life rhythms, altered self-understanding, embarrassment, resistance, and acceptance.

Cover page of What to Read on Love, not Sex: Freud, Fiction, and the Articulation of Truth in Modern Psychological Science

What to Read on Love, not Sex: Freud, Fiction, and the Articulation of Truth in Modern Psychological Science

(2012)

What to Read on Love, not Sex examines Sigmund Freud’s career-long reliance on tragedy, myth, scripture, and art to articulate a psychology of love. The author, a neurologist and psychiatrist at Harvard, rethinks Freud’s relevance for modern psychology.