Journey into an Ancient Dimension

The bus pulled up to what seemed to be a desolate parking lot, and looking around, I remember thinking, “Oh, of course. This is it.” A California native, I was still adjusting to the “empty zones” of Texas – the space between buildings and streets into which one could gaze for a moment and not be disturbed by the nuances of city life, as in the Bay Area. The Historical Center seemed to be located in one of these “empty zones,” and so I indifferently followed my peers through a glass door, having similar expectations for the inside.

I soon discovered these expectations had been extraordinarily low. Laid on a table surrounded by endless stacks of journals and volumes were instruments, texts, and visuals from another era of medicine. The anatomy-loving, intricacy-seeking geek within me jumped to life. I picked up the “amputation devices” of past centuries and reveled in their rusty glow. The idea of touching an object from another time and place was exciting beyond measure. The instrument in my hand, I realized, was a representation of how far science had come. Doctors no longer believed in mysticism, bled out their patients, and used saws as amputation devices in the twenty-first century. Just like our bodies, we had evolved. Science had evolved. And the documents on this table in this archive center were a testament to that evolution.

Image result for ancient medical instruments

The texts and collections in the archive center were not just a static collection of irrelevant facts. They were a part of ongoing studies of issues still relevant today. Looking through the Psychiatry Bulletin, words such as “psychosis,” “anorexia,” and “retardation” caught my attention because of their prominence today. I realized the Bulletin was a reflection of the norms, stereotypes, and views of another era, so not only was I learning facts by glancing through the documents, I was also learning history. And by conducting research on these topics and connecting it with issues today, I was becoming a part of the history and the quest of furthering knowledge that extended through time and space.

Image result for archive

I walked away from the archive excited to begin my research on The Psychiatry Bulletin and explore the opinions of another era and in awe of the mystery, discovery, and dynamism characteristic of the McGovern Historical Center.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Journey into an Ancient Dimension

  1. Hi Snigdha,

    I really enjoyed the points you brought up in your post, and I agree with you that the collections at the McGovern Historical Center “were not just a static collection of irrelevant facts. They were a part of ongoing studies of issues still relevant today.” Science and public health are such dynamic fields because research and human experiences often transcend distinctions of what we call “past” and “present.” These topics are not of some ancient era we cannot relate to; rather, we encounter them in our everyday lives (in your post, you noted examples such as “psychosis, “anorexia” and “retardation”). Your last sentence (“I was becoming a part of the history and the quest of furthering knowledge that extended through time and space.”) also stood out to me because it is important that we recognize our current situation—we have not only the materials and research from the past at our disposal (such as the very concrete and tangible surgical tools, or articles detailing an artificial heart procedure), but also the hindsight to improve on what has already been done. Ultimately, we are taking our experiences and knowledge from the present and using those to build on past experiments and discoveries. In this way, we can make our own mark on history as we continue expanding the fields of science and public health.

    Like

  2. I also shared the intrigue of viewing surgical instruments from a different time. As I viewed the various papers and tools at the archive, I began to understand a little of the thought process during life in earlier times. It was profound to me, like you mentioned, that “the documents on this table in this archive center were a testament to that evolution.” The very thought of being in the same place as researchers before me and researchers who will come after me, each individual bringing his or her knowledge to the room, is powerful. In this sense, I agree with you that as we contribute to the academia in the world, we are “becoming a part of the history” that we are studying. This process is an active and engaging reality where each member is able to make incremental changes to the larger goal of progress.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s