– David McCullough
Abstracts of Talks 2012-2013*
The History of the Doctor-Patient Relationship
Date: Sept. 5, 2012
Speaker: Thomas R. Cole, Ph.D., McGovern Chair in Medical Humanities, and Director, McGovern Center for Humanities and Ethics, The University of Texas Medical School at Houston
Abstract: This lecture sketches an overview of the history of the doctor-patient relationship from antiquity to the present. It describes the rise and fall of the modern doctor-patient relationship, which was characterized by long-term relationships of primary care and personal trust. In today's climate, patients often express a feeling of "doing better but feeling worse." Why the current discontent? The lecture offers a historical explanation.
Download chapter – draft (PDF)
Dehumanization, the Symbolic Gaze, and the Production of Biomedical Knowledge
Date: Oct. 3, 2012
Speaker: Jason Glenn, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Institute for the Medical Humanities, The University of Texas Medical Branch
Abstract: This lecture will explore the production of biological knowledge and frame the history of human biomedical research in a new light, as a practice that has helped produce what Aimé Césaire recognized as the "impoverished" bio-centric conception of what it means to be human in the increasing globalized culture of the West. Building on the history of human subject research that has helped produce a general consensus that the legacy of biomedical research is, overall, one of immense exploitation of subjugated and vulnerable populations who had been – to varying degrees – dehumanized, this lecture builds on that scholarship and investigates how the use of subjugated populations for experimentation and research framed the knowledge produced from their exploitation. In particular, the argument put forth is that the use of dehumanized persons for biomedical research helped produce a dehumanized body of biomedical knowledge.
Lessons from the History of Medical Social Media and Reality TV
Date: Nov. 7, 2012
Speaker: Kirsten Ostherr, Ph.D., Associate Professor of English, Rice University
Abstract: This talk will examine the rise of medical reality television and medical social media as practices that blend the functions of education and advertising for hospitals, medical schools, and private practitioners. By exploring these media in a broader historical context, we will see how they contribute new approaches to medical communication while also extending long-standing uses of media in medical practice. We will consider benefits and hazards, emphasizing techniques for intelligent engagement.
Robert N. Butler, Aging's Visionary
Date: Dec. 5, 2012
Speaker: W. Andrew Achenbaum, Ph.D., Professor of History and Social Work, University of Houston
Abstract: Robert N. Butler, M.D., (1927-2010) was probably the foremost gerontologist and geriatrician in postwar America. He won the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction for Why Survive? Being Old in America (1975) the same day he started work as the founding director of the National Institute on Aging. In 1982, Butler established the first department of geriatrics in a U.S. medical school. He went on establish the International Center for Longevity, where he completed The Longevity Revolution: The Benefits and Challenges of Living a Long Life (2008). This talk will focus on similarities and differences in these two works as well as their impact on future work for health professionals in an aging society.
Nurses During National Socialism
Date: Jan. 9, 2013
Speaker: Susan Benedict, CRNA, DSN, FAAN, Director, Global Health, and Professor, The University of Texas School of Nursing at Houston
Abstract: Much is known about the roles of physicians during the Nazi era but little has been written about the roles of nurses who, like physicians, were essential in carrying out the egregious ethical violations of the Nazis. Archival documents have demonstrated that nurses killed patients during the euthanasia programs and assisted with the medical experiments in the concentration camps. The roles of government-employed nurses, SS-employed nurses, and prisoner nurses will be discussed.
John Morris Sheppard and the Social Transformation of American Medicine
Date: Feb. 6, 2013
Speaker: Stephen B. Greenberg, M.D., is Professor of Medicine, Herman Brown Teaching Professor and the Dean of Medical Education at Baylor College of Medicine. He has been Chief of Medicine at Ben Taub Hospital since 1990.
Abstract: John Morris Sheppard served as Texas Democratic Congressman and Senator from 1902 to 1941. He graduated from The University of Texas (BA and LL.B) and Yale University (LL.M). As senator, he sponsored legislation promoting child labor laws, rural credit programs, and antitrust laws. He supported women's suffrage and authored the 18th amendment (prohibition). He was a co-sponsor of the Maternity and Infancy Protection Act (1921), known as the Sheppard-Towner Act. This provided federal matching funds for services that would lower the high maternal and infant mortality rates. State dollars would be matched by federal dollars to be used for midwife training, visiting nurses for pregnant women and new mothers, distribution of nutrition and hygiene information, and health clinics for pregnant women, mothers and children. The AMA opposed the bill, as well as the state medical societies in New York, Massachusetts, and Illinois. Nevertheless, 41 states received federal funds. Suits were filed with the U.S. Supreme Court over the constitutionality of the act in 1923. Both suits were dismissed for want of jurisdiction and without ruling on the constitutionality of the act. Appropriations ceased on June 27, 1927, even though maternal and infant death rates had fallen from 1921 and 1927. Sheppard was thought of as a "Bolshevik" and "socialist" by some and a leading "progressive" by many. The fight over federal-state boundaries for funding healthcare-related programs are not new and began over 90 years ago with the leadership of Senator Sheppard.
John Shaw Billings and the National Library of Medicine
Date: March 6, 2013
Speaker: Bryant Boutwell, Dr.P.H., John P. McGovern Professor of Oslerian Medicine, McGovern Center for Humanities and Ethics, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Abstract: John Shaw Billings, M.D. (1838-1913) exerted a powerful influence on medicine as a librarian, medical bibliographer, hospital designer, medical statistician, and much more. An 1860 graduate of the Medical College of Ohio, he served as medical inspector of the Army of the Potomac during the American Civil War. Assigned to the Office of the Surgeon General of the Army in Washington, D.C. in 1864, he was named head of the Library of the Surgeon General's Office and developed that collection as the core of what is today the National Library of Medicine. He served as director until 1895 and during that time he is responsible for creating both the Index Medicus (1879) and the Index-Catalogue (1880).
This talk will explore not only his accomplishments establishing what is today the National Library of Medicine, but also his connection to Sir William Osler as well as Osler's youngest American student at Oxford, Wilburt C. Davison, founding dean of Duke University School of Medicine. Billings' many contributions as a librarian often overshadow his key role in designing Johns Hopkins Hospital and the curriculum of the new medical school as well as his lead role in the recruitment of William Welch (1884) and Osler himself (1889).
Long before joining Johns Hopkins, Osler was a frequent correspondent to Billings at the Surgeon General's Library at 7th and Independence and at its earlier location in Ford's theatre in Washington. Osler also followed closely Billings' work as consultant to the Census Office for the 1880 census. Billings' vision of an electric tabulator utilizing punch cards to aid in the 1880 census was of great interest to Osler and perhaps Sir William's first brush with what would become computerized medical statistics. Examples of correspondence from Osler will be presented to further explore the Osler connection and the fascinating and highly accomplished life of John Shaw Billings.
- Examine the life and accomplishments of John Shaw Billings
- Identify Osler's multiple connections to Billings
- Explore the connection of Billings to Wilburt C. Davison, founding dean of Duke University School of Medicine and John P. McGovern, a Davison student and founding member of the American Osler Society
Progress and Paradigm Shifts in Medicine: The Death of Garfield and the "Wisdom of History"
Date: April 2, 2013
Place: La Colombe d'Or Restaurant
Time: Cocktails 6:30 p.m., Dinner 7 p.m., Presentation 8 p.m.
Speaker: James B. Young, M.D., Professor of Medicine and Executive Dean, Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University
Abstract: What is a paradigm shift in medical practice and how does professional arrogance and hubris affect progress? The 20th United States president, James A. Garfield, died Sept. 19, 1881, about 90 days after being shot by a deranged Charles Guiteau. Perhaps his death gives us insight. Was he a victim of an assassin's bullet or was his death caused by the hubris of his paternalistic physicians (as Guiteau later claimed). Perhaps the troika of Doctor Bliss ("Doctor" was his first name), New York's Dr. Frank Hamilton (a prominent but aging Civil War surgeon), and David Hayes Agnew (of Philadelphia and Eakins portrait fame) did him in. Garfield's wound was poked and probed with nasty fingers and filthy instruments. Why did no one pay attention to Lister who had attended the 1876 United States Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia and presented his data? How did the paradigm shift to antiseptic surgery occur and did Garfield have to die?
The History of Polio
Date: April 3, 2013
Speaker: David Oshinsky, Ph.D., Jack S. Blanton Chair in History, Distinguished Teaching Professor, and Professor, The University of Texas at Austin
Abstract: This lecture tells the story of the polio terror and of the intense effort to find a cure, from the March of Dimes to the discovery of the Salk and Sabin vaccines and beyond. It presents the rivalry between Salk and Sabin, as well as the story of Isabel Morgan, the talented research who retired to raise a family but might have discovered the polio vaccine before Salk or Sabin.
The History of Torture: Man's Inhumanity to Man
Date: May 8, 2013
Speaker: Robert Rakel, M.D., Professor Emeritus, Baylor College of Medicine
Abstract: Torture has existed for most of recorded history. Until the second century torture was used only on slaves, on the assumption that slaves could not be trusted to reveal the truth voluntarily. One of the oldest methods of torture was crucifixion, often to frighten other slaves from revolting.
In 1798 Napoleon abolished slavery saying that it is useless because "the wretches say whatever they think you want to hear." A variety of torture techniques have been used with the names changing over time to mask the true process.
Focus will be on doctors who torture, and those who are tortured because they refuse to participate. Some are used to decide how much more the victims can endure and others on methods that would exploit prisoners vulnerabilities. The classic research study by Stanley Milgram at Yale showed how ordinary, decent people can become torturers.
Recent atrocities will be discussed, such as those in Russia (Stalin executed or sent to the gulag twenty million Russians), Germany during WWII (Doctors from Hell), the British in northern Ireland (Unspeakable Acts, Ordinary People), the Japanese (Shiro Ishii and Unit 731), and by the United States (Abu Ghraib).
* Audio clips and transcripts courtesy of Adept Word Management, Inc.