Medical Humanities

Well that’s the first I’ve heard of such a thing as a field of study. I found it by way of news about a publication a friend of mine has contributed to (congrats to B____ by the way). The book is Illness in the Academy, edited by Kimberly Myers. Here’s a short article on medical humanities, Myers, and this book.

As a member of the US academic community (well, sort of) and as a patient, I find the notion of a collection of “pathographies” by academics interesting – mostly for self absorbed and self serving reasons. I’ve found it immensely difficult to be sick and in grad school. Mostly it’s the attitudes of others, peers as well but primarily my faculty. Their attitudes are quite pragmatically speaking very significant. A negative assessment from them regarding my progress, for example, can mean the difference between good funding, bad funding, or no funding.

I’m not sure how much of what I’ve sensed in people’s reactions to me and my situation is related to the glamorizing of hardship during academic career training and how much is due to the academia version of general cultural attitudes of strength gained through denial of weakness (etc). I do know that the student or junior professor who says “I can’t” is presumed to be uninterested in success, disengaged, and not serious (enough). Wimping out, copping out, not applying himself.

How does one get through this? I sometimes feel like you are not allowed to be sick in academia, but that can’t be right, can it? I must be missing something.

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