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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.

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.

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Harvey Cushing, Drawing of the Human Motor Cortex, ca. 1907. Photo courtesy of Cushing/Whitney Medical Library
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Figure 9: Harvey Cushing, Drawing of the Human Motor Cortex, ca. 1907. Photo courtesy of Cushing/Whitney Medical Library

Mentions: In the gentle pull of the forceps and the cylindrical cores carefully drilled out of the skull, the instrumental traces of the surgeon’s body visualize Harvey Cushing’s view of the brain (Figure 8). As he once wryly noted to a friend, his knowledge was “purely from the standpoint of an operator who exposes it and handles it and removes things from it” [12]. The primacy of tactile knowing was a recurring subject for Cushing as an artist, as in an earlier drawing of a sub-cortical cyst around 1907 (Figure 9). The metallic retractor, tucked beneath the skin, carefully exposes deeper layers of bone, dura mater, and brain. In the insistent implication of the surgeon’s hand in figuring knowledge, Cushing shares with the philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty an idea of embodiment as itself constituting knowledge: “that it is through my body that I go through the world, and tactile experience occurs ‘ahead’ of me, and is not centered in me. It is not I who touch, it is my body” [13].


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

Shin P - Yale J Biol Med (2011)

Harvey Cushing, Drawing of the Human Motor Cortex, ca. 1907. 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 9: Harvey Cushing, Drawing of the Human Motor Cortex, ca. 1907. Photo courtesy of Cushing/Whitney Medical Library
Mentions: In the gentle pull of the forceps and the cylindrical cores carefully drilled out of the skull, the instrumental traces of the surgeon’s body visualize Harvey Cushing’s view of the brain (Figure 8). As he once wryly noted to a friend, his knowledge was “purely from the standpoint of an operator who exposes it and handles it and removes things from it” [12]. The primacy of tactile knowing was a recurring subject for Cushing as an artist, as in an earlier drawing of a sub-cortical cyst around 1907 (Figure 9). The metallic retractor, tucked beneath the skin, carefully exposes deeper layers of bone, dura mater, and brain. In the insistent implication of the surgeon’s hand in figuring knowledge, Cushing shares with the philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty an idea of embodiment as itself constituting knowledge: “that it is through my body that I go through the world, and tactile experience occurs ‘ahead’ of me, and is not centered in me. It is not I who touch, it is my body” [13].

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