We sit down with Dr. Juan Manuel Marquez-Romero, MD, MSc, author of, "Neurological Disorders in Literary Fiction: A Single Author Case Series" <DOI 10.4103/0028-3886.344636>, to learn more about how this fascinating foray into the neurology of Stephen King's oeuvre was first hatched.
What made you think to do this kind of literary epidemiology?
The idea behind the paper dates back to medical school; I noticed that medical diagnoses were frequent among the characters in Stephen King's writings, and I started a small registry. Over the years, as I advanced in my training and became a neurologist, I also read more Stephen King novels. The registry grew and was finally completed during the first months of the pandemic. Then I decided to report my results since I found them very intriguing.
Why Stephen King?
I always have been an avid lector of fiction. Stephen King is one of my favorite authors; his fluid and naturalistic style provided me with some sort of "rest" from the heavy lectures of medical school. This was especially true during my Neurology training years.
What did you learn personally and professionally from doing this project?
Personally, I learned a lot; as I said, reading fiction was an escape from the hardships of medical training. Paradoxically, the frightful nature of Stephen King's stories seemed to help me cope with some of the real horrors one faces in medicine. I also learned about resiliency and not letting medical lectures absorb all of my time.
At the professional level, I learned that it is a real struggle to communicate out-of-the-ordinary ideas to the medical community. Even though I never received a negative comment (on the contrary, all the reviewers who read the manuscript seemed to enjoy it), publishing the article was challenging. Still, in the end, it was worth it.
If you could ask Stephen King a few questions about the neurology in his books, what would you ask him?
I would really like to ask him if the disproportionate number of neurological disorders that afflict his character is something planned or if it just happened by chance. Perhaps something regarding the nature of neurological diseases is more appealing to him as a writer; I would like to know if that's the case.
What is your next project in the medical humanities?
I still have some data about analgesic usage from my registry of Stephen King's novels, so my next step is to write and try to publish that.
Tell us briefly about yourself.
I am a clinical and interventional neurologist with a Master's in Medical Science. I live and practice in the Mexican province. My time is distributed the best way I can between clinic duty, endovascular procedures, and research and teaching activities. I like to go for a run and read non-medical texts in my spare time.
Follow Dr. Marquez-Romero:
Linkedin profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/juan-manuel-marquez-romero-54480960