Synapsing Societies from Boston to Carolina
Left to Right: Dr Mattia Rosso, Dr Charlie Palmer
Neurology has long prided itself as a discipline at the crossroads of the humanities and science. The brain’s primacy over the body was a controversial object of discussion for various philosophers such as Aristotle, Descartes, and Willis.
From this privileged vantage, neurologists would derive novel insights into the nature of self and the role of humanity. By no surprise, neurologists would be tasked with reformulating our conception of the self and crafting new niches of expertise. Among these niches, we may remember Freud’s invention of psychiatry, Oliver Sacks’ ventures into music, and AJ Lee’s explorations of literature.
Of late, the art of neurology has been greatly aided by advances in neuroscience and technology. Magnetic resonance imaging, CT scans, and electroencephalography offer an objective bedrock onto which neurologists can anchor their insights. With this has come a divide between the mind and the brain, with neurologists separated from their psychiatry colleagues. Alas, this has separated neurologists from the humanities and alienated them from patients with “inorganic” or functional ailments.
Inspired by the forefathers of neurology and by the outstanding leadership of societies such as the Boston Society of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry and the American Osler Society, we decided to start a humanities section within the neurology resident class at the Medical University of South Carolina. Seeking out Dr. Michael P.H. Stanley at this spring's American Academy of Neurology annual meeting, we entered into a series of productive conversations with him. As a result of these, we crafted this initiative and received a resoundingly positive response from our peers at our home institution.
We have developed a schedule for our monthly meetings for the first few months of this group, which will take place during workdays in person and on teleconferencing. Our curriculum far features the showing of the film Amour to be followed by discussions of the themes of this movie; a collective listening of the album Everywhere at the End of Time, and a guided visit to a local museum. Also, some of our residents have volunteered to lead some of these meetings to discuss a variety of topics, including psychoanalysis, figurative art in neurology, and the role of eponyms in modern-day medicine.
We would welcome , both in person or via teleconferencing, faculty or scholar speakers. We are looking for anyone willing to lead discussions on literature, philosophy, ethics, history, film, and all other areas of humanities. Finally, we are looking for any other form of support in the form of formal or informal guidance from the group, resources including archival footage, films, music, and all forms of support for our groups.
Mattia & Charlie,
Neurology Humanities Interest Group at MUSC
If you have any leads or support for this worthy initiative, please reach out on twitter to Mattia (@MattiaRosso3) or Charlie (@Brain_doc_), and follow @MuscNeurology to stay uptodate on the initiative's offerings and activities!