Australian politics, society & culture


Sometimes a doctor can’t help but kill a patient
By Karen Hitchcock
A few weeks ago I killed a patient. The patient wasn’t someone I’d met a few times on a ward round, them in extremis, their personal characteristics all out of focus. I’d known Jim since I was a registrar. We met in an outpatient clinic. He was in his mid 80s, tall and solidly built with neatly clipped white hair.
When the death of an old friend becomes tabloid fodder
By Luke Davies
Early examples of gene silencing in transgenic plants
Gene silencing, miracle cures and Balmain’s biggest biotech company
By Michael Lucy
Does medical screening do more harm than good?
By Karen Hitchcock
I’ve had a mammogram request slip folded into the side pocket of my purse for two years. My GP gave it to me when I turned 40, telling me the time had come to start being screened. I put it in my purse and mostly forgot about it, feeling a slight tug of anxiety whenever it emerged in a wad of receipts. I’ll get to it
The extended mind thesis and the scouring brush
By John Maloney
Are GPs prescribing too many antidepressants?
By Karen Hitchcock
I was at a party. The host stood up, thanked everyone for coming, toasted his family and then told us he had been diagnosed with depression. He turned his head away and pressed his fingers into his eyes. No one moved. “But it’s OK,” he said. “I understand that what I have is a disease, caused by a chemical imbalance
Medieval records show that attitudes to suicide have changed little
By Ceridwen Dovey
Our obsession with vitamins is getting out of hand
By Karen Hitchcock
Last summer I was swimming at my local pool. It was almost midday and I knew I should get out and under cover to protect my skin, but the cool water and warm sun felt good, and I reasoned that I could probably do with a dose of vitamin D. I saw a woman in a full-body wetsuit make her way to the edge of the pool. She
Many online daters are trapped in a pornographic shopping mall
By Michael Currie
The science is clear, but the way forward is not
By Judith Brett
By James Boyce
Dying with dignity means different things to different people
By Karen Hitchcock
Before I started studying medicine, my grandmother was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. I had no idea what that was. “Scarring of the lungs,” she said. When I announced my plan to become a doctor, she was ecstatic with pride. She’d tell anyone who listened. Like the person scanning our
A postcard showing the interior of Stateville Correctional Centre, Illinois, modelled on Bentham’s Panopticon. Courtesy of Alex Wellerstein
Privacy is fast becoming a quaint old-fashioned thing
By Linda Jaivin
What is sickness, and how much of it is in our heads?
By Karen Hitchcock
I was recently asked to give a presentation about “what makes us sick”. Thinking about that question nearly made my head explode. It’s more like “What doesn’t make us sick?” My big inner-city hospital is overflowing with the sick. There are people who are in the orthopaedic ward
How doctors deal with drug companies
By Karen Hitchcock
It was midnight and I was lying awake in bed, thinking that I should have been a surgeon. If something went wrong, I could cut it out. No nonsense, a clear cut. We physicians just sit around trying to protect organs with a bunch of drugs. Protecting organs is like being a soldier in peacetime. You hang out, doodling
Can antibiotics really cure back pain?
By Karen Hitchcock
The last film of a flight-obsessed genius
By Luke Davies
© Darren Pateman / Fairfax Syndication
Can senior citizens bridge the digital divide?
By Robyn Annear