The Human Condition Curated

What's New

Shawn Thomas on Survivors by Arthur Pratt

"Survivors gets up close and personal to the 21-month battle against Ebola in West Africa, and shows how the common people of Sierra Leone risked everything to come together and fight back against an existential threat."


Sebastian Galbo on The Presentation on Egypt by Camille Bordas

"Bordas’ story examines how the fabrication of fiction, of refusing to accept reality, can either ease, or deepen, one’s suffering."



Carol Schilling on Bodies of Truth: Personal Narratives on Illness, Disability, and Medicine edited by Dinty Moore, Erin Murphy and Renée Nicholson

"Bodies of Truth gathers twenty-five essays about experiencing illnesses and disabilities from the perspectives of patients, healthcare professionals, and families."

Richard Ratzan on "I AM" by John Clare

"In [the poem]  the poet affirms his identity, his sorrows to date and ends with the expressed longing for a happier life in the presence of God and the solitude of Nature."

Audrey Shafer on The Unspeakable Mind: Stories of Trauma and Healing from the Frontlines of PTSD Science by Shaili Jain

"A psychiatrist and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) specialist, Dr. Shaili Jain has written a book on PTSD and its many angles, from diagnosis to treatment to a larger perspective on cultural and historic influences on the development of traumatic stress."

Albert Howard Carter on The Scar: A Personal History of Depression and Recovery by Mary Cregan

"The Scar is a powerful, thoughtful, and moving book, part memoir about the author’s illness across some 30 years, part history of depression and its treatment and part essay to evoke cultural and personal values about sickness, suffering, health, and death."

Howard Trachtman on The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

"Makkai succeeds in capturing the humanity and lethality of the HIV epidemic and the extreme consequences for the victims and the survivors alike."

Jack Coulehan on From Reading to Healing: Teaching Medical Professionalism through Literature edited by Michael Blackie and Susan Stagno

"This collection is a useful addition to “literature and medicine” pedagogy....The content includes essays on teaching, as well as a number of canonical stories taught in medical humanities courses."

Russell Teagarden on Confessions of an English Opium-Eater: Being an Extract from the Life of a Scholar by Thomas De Quincey

"Thomas De Quincey was a British writer during the first half of the nineteenth century.  [His]  first encounter with opium was in 1804 when he was eighteen years old."

Sam Perkins on Strange Relation—A memoir of marriage, dementia, and poetry by Rachel Hadas

"In Strange Relation, Rachel Hadas, poet, teacher and classicist, recounts the years just short of a decade of her husband’s descent – retreat is the word she’d prefer – into dementia."

Jack Coulehan on Headcase: LGBTQ Writers and Artists on Mental Health and Wellness edited by Stephanie Schroeder and Teresa Theophano

"Headcase explores themes of mental health, mental illness, and the experience of mental health care services by members of the LGBTQ community."


Joshua Jiang on The Florida Project directed by Sean Baker

“Director Sean Baker is known for his willingness to depict unglamorous lives on the silver screen, and The Florida Project stays the course by telling the story of transient, poor folk in a modern America teeming with excess.”

Guy Glass on The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang

“This is not a conventional chronological autobiography but rather essays that provide different approaches to the author’s experience of mental illness.“

Celebrating 25 Years of the Literature, Arts and Medicine Database

In the following post, David Oshinsky, Marc Triola, Lucy Bruell and Felice Aull, the founder and Editor in Chief Emerita, take us through the early years of the site and its evolution.

Audrey Shafer on Salt in My Soul: An Unfinished Life by Mallory Smith

“This poetry collection is the first in a series of four books by Anya Silver--each volume continues to track her life through cancer treatment, remission, recurrence, and the anticipation of death.  ….. they are poems of hope and strength, poems that are truly gifts sent to us from the way stations of her difficult journey.” 

Total Database Contents

  • 176 Visual Art Annotations
  • 2819 Literature Annotations
  • 272 Performing Art Annotations
  • 98 Artists
  • 1806 Authors
  • 154 Keywords