Medicine

Listen to the Birds

Avian flu came from environmental devastation, an increasingly interconnected world, and a growing population—just like COVID-19.

Our Drugs, Ourselves

Is the term “drugs” still meaningful? Many of us would confess to being at least mildly dependent on some substance, be it single-origin coffee or Sancerre, antidepressants or anti-inflammatories ...

World without Antibiotics

Sepsis: a systemic response to infection. The body gone wild. A reaction disproportionate to its cause, one that refuses to respect the division between hearts and limbs. Diagnosing sepsis requires a sense of proper proportions. And in Surgeon X, a comic series ...

Our Metrics, Ourselves

In 1994, a doctor named Clifton Meador penned a satirical portrait of “the last well person” for the New England Journal of Medicine. The protagonist, bent on discovering every datum of unwellness …

Transplant Melodrama

Maylis de Kerangal’s Réparer les vivants, beautifully translated into English by Sam Taylor and published as The Heart, has been something of a publishing sensation in France, and beyond. I am ...

Show Me Where It Hurts: Part 2

In this second part of my survey of the growing field of graphic medicine, I review four recent nonfiction books about health, illness, recovery and loss. These books vary in many respects—in their ...

Show Me Where It Hurts: Part 1

Illness, mental and physical, is arguably comics’ invisible master theme, deeply woven into their genome and shaping the stories they tell, from the earliest newspaper strips (chronic allergies in ...

On Longer Lives and Longer Deaths

America has many open secrets. The nursing home is one of them. We try not to think too hard or too long about its residents or its low-wage staff. We’ll confront its smell, its humiliations, its bleakness, only once we need it ...

Immigrants and Illness

Illness stories recount a person’s experience with sickness and disease, often following the journey from the onset of the illness to its diagnosis, to treatment and recovery. They’ve gained ...

Why Is Drug Use Forbidden?

If the 20th was the century of the prohibition of drugs, the 21st has every chance to be the century of their liberation. An increasing number of initiatives—state, national, and international—have ...

Cancer’s Poison Gift

S. Lochlann Jain’s Malignant: How Cancer Becomes Us is both a memoir of the author’s personal journey as a cancer patient and a trenchant analysis of why preventing cancer has never been an American ...