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The Clinic & The Person

The Clinic & The Person

Author: J. Russell Teagarden & Daniel Albrant

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       The Clinic and The Person is a podcast developed to summon or quicken the attention of health care professionals, their educators, researchers and others to the interests and plights of people with specific health problems aided through knowledge and perspectives the humanities provide. We are guided by how physician-writer Iona Heath sees the arts adding a view to biomedicine “that falls from a slightly different direction revealing subtly different detail” and how that view applies to particular health care situations. Our aim is to surface these views, and our desire is to present them in ways that encourage and enable health care professionals to fully engage, to consider all sources, not just biomedical, in their roles helping people with their particular health problems. 

       “The Clinic” represents all that Biomedicine brings to bear on disease processes and treatment protocols, and “The Person,” represents all that people experience from health problems. Our episodes draw from works in the humanities—any genre—that relate directly to how people are affected by specific clinical events such as migraine headaches, epileptic seizures, and dementia, and by specific health care situations such as restricted access to care and gut-wrenching, life and death choices. We analyze and interpret featured works and provide thoughts on how they apply in patient care and support; health professions education; clinical and population research; health care policy; and social and cultural influences and reactions.

20 Episodes
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Send us a Text Message.Andrew Leland is a major figure as a writer, editor, producer, teacher, and podcaster across the mainstream American cultural landscape. He has contributed to the New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, The Believer, McSweeney’s, Radiolab, The Organist, and 99% Invisible among other respected sources, and has taught at prestigious universities. Amidst it all, he has been progressing towards blindness as a result of retinitis pigmentosa. As his sight diminished to the e...
Send us a Text Message.Four years after the Covid pandemic began, as daily life has returned in large measure to its pre-pandemic shape, assessments and reflections about how the pandemic was able to wreak such havoc and how it could be prevented from occurring again are coming forth. Many are technocratic in nature and assume our aims and pursuits will remain the same as before. Micheal O’Siadhail (pronounced mee-hawl o’sheel), in his new book of poems, Desire, says that in addition to techn...
Send us a Text Message.We return to the subject of how terrible the HIV/AIDS crisis was at its peak. The first time (Episode 9) we drew from a memoir, documentary film, and a literary novel. This time we feature the graphic memoir, Taking Turns: Stories from HIV/AIDS Care Unit 371 with the author MK Czerwiec. She created a memoir of her time as a nurse in an HIV/AIDS using the comic medium. Since then, Czerwiec has become a leading figure in Graphic Medicine. We talk to her about the Graphic ...
Send us a Text Message.Human behaviors in many segments of society during the Covid-19 pandemic could have been predicted based on literary texts from the past and right up to the moment the pandemic began. In this episode, we compare excerpts from selected literary texts imagining or depicting human reactions to plagues ranging from as far back as 700 years to just one month after the pandemic began with statements made or actions taken during the pandemic. The similarities are uncanny. Russ...
Send us a Text Message.While in Oslo, Norway visiting family, Russell Teagarden went to the National Museum (Nasjonalmuseet) to speak with Øystein Ustvedt, who is a curator and noted expert on the art of Edvard Munch. The interview concentrates on Munch’s work expressing emotional dimensions of anxiety, illness, grief, and suffering. Ustvedt talks about how Munch’s life story explains the sources for his empathy and artistic inclinations, identifies and discusses the paintings particularly ef...
Send us a Text Message.The millions of families dealing with Alzheimer’s disease produce millions of their own stories. We focus on two particular elements that can be part of a family’s story about dementia. One, from a collection of autobiographical stories, centers on an adult daughter with a long-standing, and justifiable antipathy towards her mother, who nevertheless finds a way to aid her when dementia takes hold. And, while doing so, she finds a new relationship with her mother and tak...
Send us a Text Message.What could it be like to have dementia? We can’t know. But the arts can imagine what people with dementia could be going through, and many works have been produced for that purpose. We feature a literary novel (The Wilderness), and a play (The Father) and its movie adaptation, offering sophisticated renderings of dementia for consideration. In the course of our conversation about these works and how they imagine dementia, we include: how an illusionist was part of the c...
Send us a Text Message.We look to three sources, a movie (The Mountain), a documentary film (The Lobotomist), and a nonfiction book (Desperate Remedies), for perspectives on human fallibility and folly in American asylum psychiatry during the first half of the 20th century. We focus in particular on the consequences of the overconfidence asylum psychiatry exhibited, the problem of medical knowledge in play, and the vulnerability of affected people from an absence of agency. These sources poin...
Send us a Text Message.We look at two literary descriptions of self-poisoning through the novels, Belladonna and Madame Bovary, and compare them with classic biomedical texts. We focus on how vividly the literary texts depict what people can go through after having poisoned themselves with belladonna or arsenic, how well these descriptions represent or elaborate on biomedical texts and teaching, and the applications they offer to health care practitioners, students, and the general public. &n...
Send us a Text Message.“To have great pain is to have certainty; to hear that another person has pain is to have doubt,” Professor Elaine Scarry has said, and furthermore stipulates that, “Physical pain not only resists language, but actively destroys it.” She has suggested “fictional analogs” could have application in conveying the existence of pain where there is doubt. We consider whether the speculative novel, The Illumination, could serve as a fictional analog. The novel centers on a sud...
Send us a Text Message.On this episode, we talk with Dr. Ross Slotten about his memoir, Plague Years: A Doctor’s Journey through the AIDS Crisis. He covers the time from when he entered family medicine practice just as AIDS was emerging, through the crisis, and the decades since as both a physician and a member of the at-risk community of gay men on the north side of Chicago. We also talk with Dr. Slotten about two other sources covering the early years of the AIDS crisis: a documentary film ...
Send us a Text Message.We feature four different angles addressing the opioid crisis, mostly as the opioid product OxyContin is involved and as the Appalachian region is affected. Our objective is to show how realms outside Biomedicine—the Humanities, in this case—can provide a range of perspectives suited to preferences, interests, and needs for understanding a particular issue. The four angles we feature are: nonfiction investigative journalism; nonfiction dramatization; narrative nonfictio...
Send us a Text Message.We consider “illness as loss” through three different scenarios from Lionel Shriver’s novel, So Much For That. The three scenarios are: sociopsychological, financial, and clinical. We focus on how the literary novel form isolates these scenarios and offers fully reflective accounts of how people can be affected by them. We also note how literary fiction can be the only or best medium for subjects often too sensitive for public forums such as whether money can be an obje...
Send us a Text Message.The internationally-acclaimed poet, Micheal O’Siadhail (pronounced, Meehawl O’Sheel), joins us to talk about One Crimson Thread, a memoir of 150 sonnets he wrote about the last two years of his late wife’s life with Parkinson’s disease. O’Siadhail reads four sonnets from the book relating directly to clinical scenarios familiar to health care providers, caregivers, and family members, and to the trajectory Parkinson’s disease exhibits. We discuss the insights they offer...
Send us a Text Message.We explore two paintings, each rendering one of two different perspectives on tuberculosis (TB). We first take a close look at Alice Neel’s 1940 painting, T.B. Harlem, and focus on how it depicts the suffering and destruction TB caused, and reveals some of the social determinants of TB at the time. We then examine Thomas Lawrence’s 1794 painting, Portrait of Catherine Rebecca Grey, Lady Manners, and work through how it conveys the convergence of TB clinical manifestatio...
Send us a Text Message.We draw from two short stories published long ago, but recently discovered, that help us discern whether current problems associated with professionalism in health care and access to health care are unique to our time, or whether they have always been with us in one form or another. One of the stories is Anton Chekhov’s At the Pharmacy, written in 1885 and found in the late 1990s, and the other story is Raymond Chandler’s It’s All Right – He Only Died, written in the la...
Send us a Text Message.We feature James Dickey’s poem, Diabetes, with our guest, the renowned physician-poet Dr. Jack Coulehan. We discuss insights the poem offers about the trajectory of type 2 diabetes from the time of symptom onset until the time a balance is achieved between maximum compliance with disease management requirements and the compromises an acceptable lifestyle can necessitate for many individuals. In addition to providing his perspectives on how the poem expands on the biomed...
Send us a Text Message.What can it be like to have epileptic seizures? We draw from four sources—a memoir, two novels, and a movie. In particular, we the cover how these sources depict convulsive seizure events as people may experience them, the physical and mental harm they can produce, and the adaptations to daily activities and life plans they motivate. We compare these renderings with a description from classic biomedical text, and offer thoughts on how they can expand the understanding o...
Send us a Text Message.We examine excerpts from Siri Hustvedt’s novel, The Blindfold, and from Joan Didion’s essay, In Bed, for the perspectives they offer on what people experience when migraines strike them. We discuss how Hustvedt’s and Didion’s renderings of migraines adds to classic biomedical descriptions, and consider the implications of migraine prevalence on the degree of suffering, functioning, and health care consumption. We muse about how these literary texts and others like them ...
Send us a Text Message.Introducing The Clinic & The Person, a podcast presenting works from the Humanities that bring knowledge and perspectives about particular clinical events and health care situations. The episode describes how the cohosts draw works from the Humanities and how health care professionals, educators, researchers, counsellors, and caregivers among others can apply them. The cohosts tell how their professional careers motivated them to create the podcast. Executive ...
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