The Human Condition Curated

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Jack Coulehan on The Sleeping Beauties and Other Stories of Mystery Illness by Suzanne O’Sullivan

“Suzanne O’Sullivan, an Irish neurologist, set out in 2018 to study children suffering from resignation syndrome, a project that led her to investigate other outbreaks of mysterious illness around the world.”


Shefali Sood on The Dropout directed by Elizabeth Meriwether

"The Dropout is a jam-packed miniseries documenting the real-life story of Elizabeth Holmes. While the story is true, it is almost unbelievable."  

Devon Zander on Site Fidelity by Claire Boyles

“The stories explore the way in which the characters interact with the myth of open land, untouched environment, and home in the West, but do not shy away from all that myth can often obscure - poverty, hardship, crime, radicalism.”

Jack Coulehan on The Invention of Medicine: From Homer to Hippocrates by Robin Lane Fox

“.. a difficult but rewarding read for anyone interested in the origins of the Hippocratic tradition in medicine.”  
 

Howard Trachtman on When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamin Labatut

“Nothing will quite prepare you for the literary world that Labatut has invented… the characters lived through the turbulent first third of the 20th century when quantum mechanics revolutionized the traditional understanding of physics.”

Guy Glass on The Urge: Our History of Addiction by Carl Erik Fisher

“[The book] is a comprehensive history of addiction from ancient times to the present day. It is also a memoir of the author’s own struggle with addiction.”

Jack Coulehan on Ward Rounds by K. Dale Beernick MD

"These poems, in no small part, provide a poetic peeks into the history of mid-20th century medicine."   

Lucy Bruell on The First Wave directed by Matthew Heineman

“[The film’s] focus on the suffering of the patients and the emotional stress on those who care for them will be of interest to everyone living in this life-changing time of the pandemic.”  

Carol Schilling on Every Last Breath: A Memoir of Two Illnesses by Joanne Jacobson

“Jacobson’s brilliant essays refuse to let us ignore our shared vulnerability or the unpredictability of living in a body, as she once thought she could.”

Russell Teagarden on The Shapeless Unease: A Year of Not Sleeping by Samantha Harvey

“The book is a deep and ranging analysis of insomnia causes, consequences, and fixes in the midst of daily life as Harvey experiences it.”

Howard Trachtman on The Genetic Lottery: Why DNA Matters for Social Equality by Kathryn Paige Harden

“In this important new book, Kathryn Harden provides staunch support for the key role of genetics in health, disease, and in human well-being.”

Akbar Salman and Ellen Yin on Fauci directed by John Hoffman and Janet Tobias

"What is most striking throughout the film is the sense that what makes Fauci a great man and what has made him so influential is not simply his knowledge or his intellect, but his unfailing sense of duty to his fellow man..."

Sebastian Galbo on Tangles: A Story About Alzheimer's, My Mother, and Me by Sarah Leavitt

"There is much in Tangles that might offer solace to current (or former) caregivers who struggle to give loved ones with Alzheimer’s a quality, dignified end-of-life experience.”

Tony Miksanek on The End of Days by Bernard MacLaverty

“The tale is a stunning and sorrowful envisioned snapshot of what the end of life might have felt like for an artist-protagonist during the 1918 influenza pandemic.”

Christine Olagun-Samuel on Darwin's Hunch by Christa Kuljian

“The book has utmost relevance today, as we continue to understand how vestiges of racial thought, bias and discrimination may still live on in medicine albeit in a more insidious manner.”

Guy Glass on One Friday in April by Donald Antrim

“One Friday in April is a book that will give reassurance to people who have endured suicidal thoughts that if they persist they will get better.”   

Russell Teagarden on Seeing Red by Lina Meruane

“The story involves the interplay of serious clinical events, family and social relationships, challenges with daily activities, and diminishing medical options.” 

Steven Field on Mysterious Medicine: The Doctor-Scientist Tales of Hawthorne and Poe edited by L. Kerr Dunn

“Some of us think of “doctor fiction” as a modern genre.  This anthology definitely calls that notion into question.”

Audrey Shafer on Daughter by Cortney Davis

“The collection is a tribute to familial love, and ultimately to one particular person, separated by the worsening pandemic, and dealing with the ravages of metastatic breast cancer.”

Russell Teagarden on Dopesick created by Danny Strong

“To adapt to the format of a dramatic series, Danny Strong, the creator, sets the series around the fiendish Purdue Pharma sales and marketing practices and the people they affected directly.”

Jacalyn Duffin on The King's Anatomist by Ron Blumenfeld

“Centered on the mysterious death and lost grave of the great anatomist, this enjoyable novel is anchored in nodal points generated by scholarly literature.”

Howard Trachtman on Bewilderment by Richard Powers

“[The author] examines the question whether neurobiology can help people achieve empathy, potentially even merge with another person.”

Russell Teagarden on Nervous System by Lina Meruane

“The novel sees illness and death as punishing and shattering, but also life affirming.”

Guy Glass on How To Be Depressed by George Scialabba

“The bulk of the book is an edited selection of the author’s psychiatric records from 1969 to 2016…The notes document changes in psychiatry over the past half century."

Howard Trachtman on Blood in the Water: The Attica Uprising of 1971 and its Legacy? by Heather Ann Thompson

“This book is a reminder that it will take an extended and concerted effort to achieve equal treatment for citizens in the penal system and in the health system.”

Jacalyn Duffin on Imprimatur by Rita Monaldi and Francesco Sorti

“Full of elaborate atmosphere and intrigue, the novel is a masterpiece of historical research in politics, religion, and social conditions.”

Steven Field on Oli Otya? Life and Loss in Rural Uganda directed by Lucy Bruell

“The film is a moving and thought-provoking look at the beating heart of medicine with its engaging soundtrack and its from-the-inside views of rural and village life.”

Martin Kohn on Practice by Richard Berlin

“Evident in the poems is a person experiencing much more than medical/psychiatric practice, but a full cornucopia of life: his love of art, music, food, nature, and the people he shares this bounty with.”

Russell Teagarden on This is Your Mind on Plants by Michael Pollan

“Pollan continues pursuing his interest in the human drive for altering consciousness through mind-altering substances and marries this interest with his passion for plants and gardening.”     

Devon Zander on The Impatient Dr. Lange by Seema Yasmin

“Like many public health crusaders, Lange understood the connection between societal and historical factors and the spread and development of disease, specifically HIV and AIDS.”




Guy Glass on Everything is Fine by Vince Granata

"[The author] dedicates himself to understanding schizophrenia and the shortcomings in our mental health care system, and, finally, writes this book." 

Jacalyn Duffin on The Conjure-Man Dies by Rudolph Fisher

"Fisher was an African-American physician-author whose clever novel contains only African-American characters, including the physician and the detective."


Cortney Davis on Queen of the Sugarhouse by Constance Studer

“Even when the author is writing of life outside the hospital or the sickroom, her knowledge of our fragile bodies and vulnerable minds are evident--as is her understanding of the complexities of human existence and desire.”

Steven Field on The Expendable Man by Dorothy Hughes

“Hughes’ ability to create the setting and build the uneasiness is superb literary craft…  prepare to have everything you’ve thought about the story suddenly change with the breathless rapidity of a rug being pulled out from under you.”

Cortney Davis on Freud on My Couch by Richard Berlin

“Berlin writes as a physician, husband, father, friend, lover of music--and as a man who understands that he and his patients share a common and fragile humanity.”

Russell Teagarden on Should We Stay or Should We Go by Lionel Shriver

 “Readers will appreciate the book for the questions it raises and the thinking it inspires...[about] taking measures to avoid devastating enfeeblement and infirmity during old age.”

Sebastian Galbo on An Enemy of the People by Satyajit Ray

“Ray depicts physicians who struggle to share scientific truth under the weight of public vilification and skullduggery.”

Jack Coulehan on Secret Wounds by Richard M. Berlin

“Richard Berlin’s poems are revelatory. They reveal the healing power of attention, empathy, witness, and love.”

Devon Zander on The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison

“The book  explores the human condition and what it means to relate to one another with caring despite the interpersonal complications that can often arise.”

Tony Miksanek on The Ministry of Bodies by Seamus O'Mahony

“This unusual memoir - both blunt and philosophical - contemplates topics deeply relevant to all physicians.”

Sebastian Galbo on Imagining Vesalius: An Ekphrastic, Scholarly and Literary Celebration of the 1543 De Humani Corporis Fabrica of Andreas Vesalius by Richard Ratzan

“[The author] brings together scholars and creative writers to celebrate the legacy of the sixteenth-century Flemish physician and anatomist, Andreas Vesalius and his  landmark text, De Humani Corporis 

Howard Trachtman on East West Street and Ratline by Philippe Sands

“In these two linked books, [the author] tells an extraordinary real life story that combines personal experience and world history into a narrative that is as powerful as any novel.”

Carol Schilling on Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution by Directors Nicole Newnham and James LeBrecht

Crip Camp is in part a multi-voiced memoir told from the too-rare perspective of teenagers with disabilities about a shared formative experience and, simultaneously, a needed documentary about disability civil rights campaigns.”

Russell Teagarden on Dileesh Pothan's Joji

“Covid-19 has has scorched societies at all levels all around the world. Will anyone believe a movie is set in the current time period without signs of Covid-19? Dileesh Pothan thinks not.”  

Howard Trachtman on Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

“Is Religion or Science best able to deal with the psychological problems that can arise over a lifetime? Yaa Gyasi’s powerful new book aims to answer these perennial questions.”

Steven Field on THE GREAT INFLUENZA: A Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History by John Barry

“For anyone seeking to understand the 1918 influenza pandemic not only from a scientific and medical historical standpoint, but also with an appreciation of the political and sociocultural milieu in which it took place, you can’t do much better than Barry’s work.”

Mark Clark on The Arrow Tree: Healing from Long COVID by Phyllis Weliver

“[The] memoir points its readers in the direction of a safe passage to the home of our natural world, where, in finding union with that world, we may experience healing not only from COVID but from habits of the heart that have left us more broken than we know.”

Russell Teagarden on Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem

“From this novel, we get Lethem’s view of how Tourette syndrome can affect everyday life and how it can progress; how people with the syndrome can think about it; the balance people seek between benefits and side effects of drug therapies; and whether it’s acceptable to think that some verbal and physical tics are funny.”

Tony Miksanek on Parenthesis by Élodie Durand

"The author-artist's black and white illustrations are potent in portraying her struggle to understand the seizures and her attempt to communicate their impact on her life.”

Lucy Bruell on Collective by Alexander Nanau

“By bringing public awareness to the critical shortcomings, corruption and politicization of the Romanian health care system, the filmmakers have created an important cautionary tale for other cities and countries who do not prioritize the health of their citizens.”

Total Database Contents

  • 178 Visual Art Annotations
  • 2928 Literature Annotations
  • 293 Performing Art Annotations
  • 100 Artists
  • 1867 Authors
  • 191 Keywords