Not long ago, I studied medicine.It was terrible, what the body told.I’d look inside another person’s mouth,And see the desolation of the world.I’d see his genitals and think of sin.
Dr. Susan Rather discusses medical art education in HI’s Faculty Fellows Seminar on Health, Well-Being, Healing
By Saralyn McKinnon-Crowley
In the late 1990s, dermatology Professor Irwin M. Braverman of Yale School of Medicine concluded that his medical students were relying too much on high-tech imaging and not enough on their own visual skills to diagnose skin conditions. Dr. Braverman wanted to ensure that reliance on technology did not supplant traditional diagnostic skills, and hoped that better doctor-patient interaction and keener medical observation would diminish the need for so many diagnostic tests. To help students develop their visual skills, Dr. Braverman designed, in collaboration with the education curator at the Yale Center for British Art Linda Krohner Friedlaender, an elective course in which students would study narrative paintings (paintings that tell a story) and describe the works of art as thoroughly and objectively as possible. Students received no external information about the paintings, not even painting titles. In 2001, Jacqueline Dolev—an alumna of the course—Ms. Friedlaender, and Dr. Braverman published research on the course’s effectiveness in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Students who completed the course, they reported, had improved observational skills and perceived more details about their patients compared to students who had not enrolled. These results suggest that students’ visual diagnostic abilities would have also improved, thereby boosting the efficiency of their patient care.
Dr. John Roberts discusses aging and decline in John Updike’s writing in our Faculty Fellows Seminar on Health, Well-Being, Healing
By Saralyn McKinnon-Crowley
Last week’s Faculty Fellows Seminar in “Health, Well-Being, Healing” focused on questions of dying and, specifically, how new life-prolonging technologies compel one to rethink what it means to die. Dr. John Robertson of the School of Law presented his current research on Left Ventricular Assistance Devices (LVADs) and the later poetry and prose of John Updike. Dr. Robertson is especially interested in Updike’s short story “The Full Glass”—written shortly before Updike’s own death in 2009—about aging and decline. Updike’s protagonist reflects on a small detail of his daily life, filling his bedtime glass of water, to think about the end of life without directly confronting the experience of dying. Dr. Robertson’s work-in-progress on this material is entitled “Writers at the End—John Updike’s ‘The Full Glass,’” which he hopes to publish in the journal Literature and Medicine. Although “The Full Glass” does not address machines or surgical implants (such as LVADs), Updike’s writing reflects on the quality of life from the perspective of an elderly man.
Ann Hamilton reflects on the evolution of her public art works in HI’s Faculty Fellows Seminar on Health, Well-Being, Healing
By Clare Callahan
Last week’s Humanities Institute Faculty Fellows Seminar on “Health, Well-Being, Healing” hosted internationally recognized visual artist Ann Hamilton to speak on O N E E V E R Y O N E, a public art project commissioned by Landmarks for the Dell Medical School. O N E E V E R Y O N E opened on January 27, and Hamilton was in Austin for the opening. Hamilton’s O N E E V E R Y O N E, as Landmarks describes the project, “is framed by the idea that human touch and intimacy are the most essential means of contact and the fundamental expression of physical care. More than 500 participants in several Austin locations were photographed through a semi-transparent membrane that sharply focused parts of the body that made contact with the material and softly blurred the parts that moved away from it. The optical quality of the material renders touch—something felt, more than seen—visible.”