Medicine and Literature. An Example of Literary Creativity in the Medical Field: A Psychological Investigation about The Typhus by A. Čhekhov


An increasing proportion of health professionals and scholars of the humanities is interesting to the Narrative Based Medicine. The terms used indicate a mode of coping with the disease aims to understand its meaning in an overall, systematic, broader and more respectful of the patient. The Narrative Based Medicine fortifies clinical practice with the narrative competence to recognize, absorb, metabolize, interpret, and become aware of the stories of the disease. Health professionals can acquire these skills through courses of medical humanities that include the use of different types of narrative text. Narrative medicine uses also literary texts in order to improve narrative and empathic ability of clinicians. This perspective also allows considering the Chekhovian literary work within a holistic vision linking scientific background and literary creativity. The material used for this study is the tale The Typhus by A. Čhekhov adapted from Novels and Theater. The text analysis is conducted with the logical and conceptual tools derived from the Psychology of Art and Creativity and in the perspective of narrative based medicine. In the story we are examining the Russian writer, who never gave up being a medical officer throughout his life, manages to make a perfect synthesis between the scientific background and his literary creativity, combining a careful clinical description of the symptoms of the typhus with evocative depictions of the characters and the environment he captured with brushstrokes capable of creating a picture having a purely artistic value and meaning. Narrative based medicine, which also makes use of narrative about the disease written by physicians or patients or even by medical patients, is a good opportunity for the medicine to go beyond the technocratic vision of the scientific evidence and draw closer to the wholeness of the experience of individual patients.

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Tomassoni, R. , Fusco, A. and Treglia, E. (2014) Medicine and Literature. An Example of Literary Creativity in the Medical Field: A Psychological Investigation about The Typhus by A. Čhekhov. Health, 6, 1834-1839. doi: 10.4236/health.2014.614215.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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