Resources: Fall 2019

By Dorottya B. Kacsoh and Keenan Whitesides, PT, DPT, NCS

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Cléo from 5 to 7 by Agnès Varde

Photo Credit: Cléo from 5 to 7, Agnès Varda, 1962.

Cléo From 5 to 7 (1962) is a French film directed by Agnès Varda that chronicles the two-hour period between a singer’s biopsy and the result. In an age in which speaking of cancer was taboo, Varda creates this cancer narrative saying the word “cancer” only once. The film showcases the singer’s illness experience with little to no emphasis on the possible presence of cancer. The movie brings to light the lived experience, minute by minute, of coping with the uncertainty of possible illness. Naming the disease could exacerbate the illness; the film shows, in its own way, how it is critical to attend to each person’s perception of disease and the social implications it may have.


Writings on Medicine by Georges Canguilhem

Photo Credit: Writings on Medicine, Fordham University Press; New York, NY; 2012.

This book is a collection of essays by the late Georges Canguilhem, a noted historian of science and medicine. In the chapter, “Is a Pedagogy of Healing Possible?” Canguilhem explores what it means to heal, how others impact one’s healing process, and how patients may need to redefine the meaning of health. Healing does not involve a return to “normal,” he writes; rather, it involves redefining one’s definition of normal. He argues that it is the role of the clinician to not only treat the patient’s body but also to deliver care in such a way as to foster healing on a holistic level.

Creating In/Abilities for Eating by Dikaios Sakellariou

Photo Credit: Photo by Ton Heftiba on

This article explores the desire—better yet, the necessity—of maintaining one’s sense of self when that is precisely what’s at stake. Occupational therapist Dikaios Sakellariou describes how familial caregiving impacted the treatment of his mother’s motor neuron disease. He explains that she was losing the ability to eat, but felt that consenting to a percutaneous endoscopic gastronomy (PEG) would compromise her sense of self. Her family instead chose to become her caregivers, helping with her daily intake of food and vitamins, to prevent that sacrifice. The article illustrates the crucial role of informal caregivers in determining a patient’s health and wellbeing, and how the involvement of the family should not be ignored during clinical encounters.

The Woman in the Mirror: Humanities in Medicine by Frank Huyler, MD, MPH

Photo Credit: Photo by Septian Simon on

In this article, Dr. Frank Huyler discusses the applicability to clinical practice of  humanities studies. He draws on his experience with a difficult patient to illustrate how much of medicine is subjective rather than objective, that the healthcare system is based on cultural factors rather than purely scientific ones, and that these cultural influences can impact a patient’s quality of care. Rather than simply being an attempt to make clinicians more compassionate, the humanities act as a tool to promote attention to detail in the patient’s narrative and individual situation, which can influence outcomes—and affect how we practice medicine.

Using Joint Interviews in a Narrative-Based Study on Illness Experience1 by Dikaios Sakellariou, Gail Boniface, and Paul Brown

Photo Credit: Photo by Stephano Intintoll on

Patients with motor neuron disease often have someone, such as a spouse, deeply involved in their daily lives without whom it would be difficult to live independently. In this article, the authors discuss the importance of conducting interviews with both the patient and the caregiver. Joint interviews reveal the shared illness experience, which can be valuable when clinicians are assessing a patient’s condition and considering the involvement of informal caregivers.


  1. Sakellariou, Dikaios, Gail Boniface, and Paul Brown. “Using Joint Interviews in a Narrative- Based Study on Illness Experiences.” Qualitative Health Research, vol. 23, no. 11, 2013, pp. 1563-1570.

About the Author(s)

Dorottya B. Kacsoh

Dorottya B. Kacsoh graduated from Emory University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Bachelor of Arts in French Studies. In her senior year, she investigated the intersection of her majors by writing an honors thesis exploring the role of caregiving in stroke rehabilitation in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (1997) by Jean-Dominique Bauby. She is currently working as a research specialist at Emory and as an editorial assistant for The Journal of Humanities in Rehabilitation.


Keenan Whitesides, PT, DPT, NCS

Keenan Whitesides, PT, DPT, NCS, is a staff physical therapist at the Emory Brain Health Center after completing her neuroresidency at Emory University. Dr. Whitesides received her Bachelor of Science degree in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology from Emory University, her Master’s degree in Secondary Education from American University and her Doctor of Physical Therapy from Duke University. She has previously published some of her work in The Intima – A Journal of Narrative Medicine, an interdisciplinary, online journal of narrative writing from Columbia University. She considers writing and reflection an essential component of her practice.


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