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Association of Medical Humanities

6 Mar, 09 | by Deborah Kirklin

So where do you go, bedsides straight to our very own journal, website and blog, if you’re a clinician, educator or academic in the UK and Ireland with an interest, or even just a fledgling curiosity, about medical humanities?

To the Association of Medical Humanities of course. Following this link to the Association’s website to find out more. And why not join up? The more the merrier!

Book review: The Spare Room by Helen Garner

27 Feb, 09 | by Giskin Day


Helen Garner’s The Spare Room (published by Canongate) is an exploration of the emotional and practical turmoil engendered by caring for someone who is grasping at straws to evade the terminal truth of their illness.


The narrative probes a friendship between two feisty women when it is taken to new levels of intensity by a clash in ideology. Helen (who deliberately shares the author’s name) starts off with noble intentions. She prepares her spare room with due consideration for longstanding-friend Nicola’s feng shui inclinations, hoping to strike just the right balance between practicality and homeliness. Nicola, riven with cancer, is coming to Sydney to spend a small fortune on alternative therapy at the Theodore Institute. Predictably, the Institute proves fantastically adept at sales talk but medically deeply dubious. Nicola emerges from intravenous Vitamin C treatment and ozone cupping weakened and wracked with excruciating pain, but she holds out against morphine until she – and, more particularly, Helen – can bear it no longer. Nicola is coaxed into reengaging with orthodox medicine by her outraged and exhausted friend. more…

Can a comic a day keep the doctor away? GP Ian Williams thinks so

17 Dec, 08 | by Deborah Kirklin

In these uncertain economic times there seems to be a growing nostalgia for the more simple things in life. Home baking and dressmaking is on the rise and many families are anticipating a less commercialised festive get together. Although some of this return to basics is undoubtedly driven by economic imperatives, anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that this enforced trip down memory lane can be strangely comforting. 

Which might, in part, explain the increasing appeal that comics or graphic novels have for grown-ups as well as children. In this posting Dr Ian Williams explains how far from being “just for kids”, graphic novels can actually be good for everyone’s health. His posting not only makes interesting reading but also provides a handy excuse over the holiday season to Simpson’s fans around the world. 

One last thing: Ian Williams can, alas, accept no responsibility for any enjoyable moments or unanticipated sniggers experienced by visitors to the site. These are strictly unintentional. Remember, fellow professionals: this is work, not play.


Understanding childhood obesity:the Wellcome Trust film and video archive goes digital

13 Dec, 08 | by Deborah Kirklin

I’m grateful to Christy Henshaw for letting me know about an exciting new project from the Wellcome Trust. So far about 100 films from the Trust’s vast archive of film and video have been digitalised and can be viewed by anyone, free-of-charge, on-line. 

A brief glance at the titles led me to a fascinating insight into how the British Medical Association, in 1967, tried to engage with the public about growing concerns regarding childhood obesity. The way in which the issue of childhood obesity is framed in the film- including the language used and the overt and unashamed signaling that allowing a child to be fat both stigmatises them and threatens their health- will surely enrich the thinking of contemporary medical humanities scholars interested in the so-called obesity epidemic.

To see this clip click on the link below.

Cruel Kindness

The list of available titles in the Wellcome Library Catalogue can be seen by following the link below. This resource will shortly be available via Flash Player which should make access easier.

Full details, from Christy, follow.


New York, London, Oslo: art collections at the click of a mouse

28 Jul, 08 | by Deborah Kirklin

One of the most powerful teaching tools available to educators is- for me- art. And one of the wonderful things about being a medical educator is the fact that so many of the world’s great art galleries and museums have- or are in the process of -making their collections freely available on-line. In this posting I’ll tell you about three of my favorite on-line collections in the hope that you’ll share yours with me. more…

Medical Humanities Resources:Visual, Performed, Oral and Written Stories of Illness

20 Jun, 08 | by Deborah Kirklin

One of the primary aims of this blog is to enable quicker and easier communication between the providers and users of medical humanities resources. One of the most important of these types of resources focus on the importance of the stories and experiences of those affected by illness. Sometimes the aim in recording these stories – whether through interviews, in painting and photographs, through performance or documentary filming- is, quite simply, to help those affected by serious illness to articulate their stories and, sometimes but not always, to be witnessed.   more…

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