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Harvey Cushing's ghosts: death and hauntings in modern medicine.

Shin P - Yale J Biol Med (2011)

Bottom Line: The passing of Yale School of Medicine's 2010 Bicentennial occasions a moment of reflecting on the past, present, and future of medical education and research at Yale and beyond.Named after Harvey Cushing, an early 20th-century neurosurgeon and former Yale College alum, the dual education/exhibition space now houses hundreds of gross brain specimens constituting the Cushing Tumor Registry.The brains express Cushing's singular and spectral worldview as a surgeon, artist, athlete, soldier, book collector, and historian.

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Affiliation: Department of History of Science/History of Medicine, Yale University, 333 Cedar Street, New Haven, CT 06510, USA. paul.shin@yale.edu

ABSTRACT
The passing of Yale School of Medicine's 2010 Bicentennial occasions a moment of reflecting on the past, present, and future of medical education and research at Yale and beyond. Last June, a ribbon-cutting ceremony inaugurated the opening of the Cushing Center in the Cushing-Whitney Medical Library. Named after Harvey Cushing, an early 20th-century neurosurgeon and former Yale College alum, the dual education/exhibition space now houses hundreds of gross brain specimens constituting the Cushing Tumor Registry. Originally a personal collection, Cushing donated his numerous medical specimens, photographs, and other medical relics from his deathbed, relinquishing the brains to Yale only under the condition that a suitable space be erected to preserve the many specimens. Some 70 years later and after nearly being destroyed, Cushing's wish is fully realized: The once desiccated, hidden brains have been painstakingly restored and are now on view in the Cushing Center. The brains express Cushing's singular and spectral worldview as a surgeon, artist, athlete, soldier, book collector, and historian.

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Gross specimen from the Cushing Tumor Registry, after restoration.
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Related In: Results  -  Collection


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Figure 4: Gross specimen from the Cushing Tumor Registry, after restoration.

Mentions: As Dagradi notes, the Cushing Tumor Registry can appear “pretty gruesome and macabre” [5]. Yet for all the correspondences between decaying flesh and mortality, the brains draw their deepest power in the way death does not quite appear (Figure 4). This uncanniness ― what I call the ghostliness of the Cushing brains ― arises from the specimens themselves. Through listening to the silence and solitude contained in the collection, this essay aims to suggest how this is so.


Harvey Cushing's ghosts: death and hauntings in modern medicine.

Shin P - Yale J Biol Med (2011)

Gross specimen from the Cushing Tumor Registry, after restoration.
© Copyright Policy - open access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3117422&req=5

Figure 4: Gross specimen from the Cushing Tumor Registry, after restoration.
Mentions: As Dagradi notes, the Cushing Tumor Registry can appear “pretty gruesome and macabre” [5]. Yet for all the correspondences between decaying flesh and mortality, the brains draw their deepest power in the way death does not quite appear (Figure 4). This uncanniness ― what I call the ghostliness of the Cushing brains ― arises from the specimens themselves. Through listening to the silence and solitude contained in the collection, this essay aims to suggest how this is so.

Bottom Line: The passing of Yale School of Medicine's 2010 Bicentennial occasions a moment of reflecting on the past, present, and future of medical education and research at Yale and beyond.Named after Harvey Cushing, an early 20th-century neurosurgeon and former Yale College alum, the dual education/exhibition space now houses hundreds of gross brain specimens constituting the Cushing Tumor Registry.The brains express Cushing's singular and spectral worldview as a surgeon, artist, athlete, soldier, book collector, and historian.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of History of Science/History of Medicine, Yale University, 333 Cedar Street, New Haven, CT 06510, USA. paul.shin@yale.edu

ABSTRACT
The passing of Yale School of Medicine's 2010 Bicentennial occasions a moment of reflecting on the past, present, and future of medical education and research at Yale and beyond. Last June, a ribbon-cutting ceremony inaugurated the opening of the Cushing Center in the Cushing-Whitney Medical Library. Named after Harvey Cushing, an early 20th-century neurosurgeon and former Yale College alum, the dual education/exhibition space now houses hundreds of gross brain specimens constituting the Cushing Tumor Registry. Originally a personal collection, Cushing donated his numerous medical specimens, photographs, and other medical relics from his deathbed, relinquishing the brains to Yale only under the condition that a suitable space be erected to preserve the many specimens. Some 70 years later and after nearly being destroyed, Cushing's wish is fully realized: The once desiccated, hidden brains have been painstakingly restored and are now on view in the Cushing Center. The brains express Cushing's singular and spectral worldview as a surgeon, artist, athlete, soldier, book collector, and historian.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus