Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Cecil Helman's Latest Book Released Posthumously

Cecil Helman 
Photograph by Doron Swade
Cosimo is celebrating the life of a Paraview author and beloved father, doctor, medical anthropologist, and lecturer,  Cecil Helman, the month of May.

Cecil Helman, who died on 15 June 2009, was a family practitioner in London whose research articles and textbooks are required readings for many University courses all around the world. His work was able to help doctors, healers, and healthcare professionals better understand their patients' symptoms and how they relate to their belief systems and cultural backgrounds

Helman's lastest book, An Amazing Murmur of the Heart, to be released posthumously, looks at the disappearance of the patient as a person from 21st century medicine, told through the stories of his many patients. He asks the question: "Where has the patient gone?’ and answers that patients "are still here, waiting for their doctors to notice them again, to shift their attention away from all their magic machines and high tech tests, and to listen to their stories again. And hidden away in those stories, to hear the faint, almost inaudible, murmuring of their hearts." This last book of Helman's will be published and available for purchase on May 22.

His Paraview Special Editions title, The Body of Frankenstein's Monster: Essays in Myth and Medicine, expands our view of human bodies by exploring its cultural and artistic representations: "Frankenstein. Werewolves. Dracula. These images aren't just imaginary creatures -- they're also powerful symbols of the body. The body can be thought of as a machine made up of parts like Frankenstein's monster, or as a creature ruled by animalistic urges, or as an entity that's vulnerable to infection from a diseased fiend."

In 2004, the American Anthropological Association presented him with a Career Achievement Award, and the following year the Royal Anthropological Institute awarded him its Lucy Mair medal "for consistent excellence in applied anthropology".  His book, Suburban Shaman: Tales From Medicine's Frontline, was honored on BBC Radio 4’s Book of the Week in 2006. He also won the Royal College of General Practitioners' Abercrombie medal "for an outstanding contribution to the literature of general practice" and the Book of the Year award from the Society of Medical Writers in 2007. He sadly died of motor neurone disease in 2009. He left behind his former wife Vetta, and his daughter Zoe, to whom he dedicated many of his work.

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