California Literary Review

Medicine

Art Review: Health for Sale, Philadelphia Museum of Art

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April 15th, 2011

Designed for short-term use to promote public health or sell the latest “miracle” drug, medical posters have often been ignored. Traditionally, these posters have ranked well below the “stars” of Ars Medica collections, such as books of hand-tinted herbal remedies or anatomical drawings from the 16th century. But each of the prints in Health for Sale tells an amazing story, often confounding the expectations of the viewer.

The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care by T. R. Reid

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September 24th, 2009

In this great country, for all its goodness, and for all the excellence of the medical care available to the more fortunate, Reid states that 20,000 American citizens die each year due to lack of health insurance and health care. (A more recently released Harvard study indicates more than twice that many.) The notion we have something to learn from other industrialized, wealthy societies often meets with considerable resistance, not because of the oft touted bugaboo of “socialized medicine,“ but simply because the ideas involved are foreign.

Knife Song Korea by Richard Selzer

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August 11th, 2009

On arriving at his small and isolated army base in Korea, Sloane is met by Larry Olsen, the army physician he is replacing. Olsen speaks to him as follows; “There’s no roof that doesn’t leak. The rats are fearless. Flies rule the country. Everybody steals. Orphans, refugees everywhere. They’re coming down from the north. There’s no equipment to speak of. There’s no sterilizer. And the dirt, the vermin….It’s yours now.”

Mania: A Short History of Bipolar Disorder by David Healy

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September 10th, 2008

He refuses to accept the dominance of money over medicine and the alarming diagnoses of bipolar disorder in infants. ‘We now have a system that inhibits our abilities to find cures while encouraging companies to seek short-term profits by co-opting bipolar disorder for the purposes of increasing the sales of major tranquilizers to infants. Giving major tranquilizers to children is little different from giving children cancer chemotherapy when they have a cold.’

Jill Bolte Taylor’s Right Brain Wants to Tell Us Something

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July 2nd, 2008

“I had a rare congenital malformation in the blood vessels of my left hemisphere and at the age of 37 the malformation (AVM) blew and resulted in a major hemorrhage in the left half of my brain. On the morning of the stroke, I could not walk, talk, read, write, or recall any of my life. I describe myself as an infant in a woman’s body.”

The Best American Science Writing 2007

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April 30th, 2008

Jonathon Keats’s article from Popular Science recounts the work of the guru of artificial intelligence, John Koza, an adjunct professor at Stanford University. He developed a system of linked computers that he calls an “invention machine.” The machine has been awarded a United States Patent (!), the “first intellectual property protections ever granted to a nonhuman designer.”

The Common Secret by Susan Wicklund

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January 2nd, 2008

Her home was invaded in her absence. Both muddy boot prints and anti-abortion pamphlets were left behind. Her driveway was barricaded with barrels of concrete to keep her from going to work. Threatening phone calls and letters arrived regularly. Her daughter’s school was invaded and the child harassed to tears. She endured the death of colleagues who were gunned down by anti-abortion zealots. On occasion local authorities were indifferent to her plight, so an armored vest and a .38 caliber revolver became part of her clinic attire.

The Truth About Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What To Do About It – by Marcia Angell

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April 24th, 2007

When AstraZeneca was on the verge of losing its patent to manufacture exclusively the $6 billion a year heart burn drug Prilosec, it put in place a bold strategy: it patented and gained approval for a new heartburn medication, Nexium, that was, in reality, the active ingredient in Prilosec without the inactive ingredient.

The Lobotomist: A Maverick Medical Genius and His Tragic Quest to Rid the World of Mental Illness – by Jack El-Hai

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April 22nd, 2007

Walter Jackson Freeman was a man gifted with energy, optimism and an ice pick.

The Athena Factor by W. Michael Gear

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April 10th, 2007

In The Athena Factor W. Michael Gear explores the compelling and in many ways horrifying world of biotech engineering, principally in the form of DNA research and manipulation. While this book is fictional, what the author describes is not.

An Interview With Jonathan Kaplan

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April 3rd, 2007

“I was in Baghdad as a volunteer surgeon, but operating was difficult. The city’s hospitals had treated many wounded during the bombing, depleting emergency stores. Following the arrival of the Americans, much of the remainder had been looted, the pillage continuing even as staff tried to deal with arriving casualties. Operating rooms resembled charnel-houses, with discarded surgeons’ gloves, crusted dressings and bloody clothes caked underfoot.”

Sudden Onset

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March 25th, 2007

From that first tingling in bed to calling 911 was an hour and a half. Sudden onset, they call it.

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