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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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Cooling motors on Zirlurberg, Sept. 6, 1932. Cushing on the ground, staring off into the sky. Note the photographer’s shadowy presence. Photo courtesy of Cushing/Whitney Medical Library
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Figure 6: Cooling motors on Zirlurberg, Sept. 6, 1932. Cushing on the ground, staring off into the sky. Note the photographer’s shadowy presence. Photo courtesy of Cushing/Whitney Medical Library

Mentions: To say that Harvey Cushing believed in ghosts is not to offer a speculative explanation that draws upon preoccupations with the spectral side of life. It emerges, rather, from a trained historical sensibility to Cushing’s personal and broader cultural contexts (Figure 6). As his biographer Michael Bliss says, “Cushing, of the same generation as Jack McCrae and the men in Flanders field, liked to summon spirits for literary and other purposes and may even have vaguely believed in them” [9].


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

Shin P - Yale J Biol Med (2011)

Cooling motors on Zirlurberg, Sept. 6, 1932. Cushing on the ground, staring off into the sky. Note the photographer’s shadowy presence. Photo courtesy of Cushing/Whitney Medical Library
© Copyright Policy - open access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

Figure 6: Cooling motors on Zirlurberg, Sept. 6, 1932. Cushing on the ground, staring off into the sky. Note the photographer’s shadowy presence. Photo courtesy of Cushing/Whitney Medical Library
Mentions: To say that Harvey Cushing believed in ghosts is not to offer a speculative explanation that draws upon preoccupations with the spectral side of life. It emerges, rather, from a trained historical sensibility to Cushing’s personal and broader cultural contexts (Figure 6). As his biographer Michael Bliss says, “Cushing, of the same generation as Jack McCrae and the men in Flanders field, liked to summon spirits for literary and other purposes and may even have vaguely believed in them” [9].

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