The voice of art and the art of medicine. The 2002 presidential address.


Vincent van Gogh's life, letters, and art are the framework for this existential speech about the nature of alienation, as well as its threat to humanity and to the artful practice of medicine. The honest, human voice expressed in van Gogh's art stands in opposition to alienation, which occurs when we divide the world into two parts: the "perfect" world of science versus the "flawed" world of human experience. Bridging this divide allows for an "authentic" life, one which honestly defines itself and faces difficult human truths. The most difficult truth relates to our own mortality, but it must be faced if we are to understand the value of existence. Film clips from Woody Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters illustrate how an artist's portrayal of these issues can be both profound and humorous, and how art brings us closer to our own humanity and to the essence of medicine. Neurosurgeons are warned about the lure of science and technology as a substitute for purpose and meaning, both as physicians and as human beings. The role of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons is explored and found to offer neurosurgeons a bridge away from alienation and toward a neurosurgical community. Neurosurgeons are urged to find meaning through service to their profession and to find the voice and art of medicine. [Note: Actual film clips were used when this address was delivered. Unofficial transcripts of the clips have been included in this article so that the integrity of the speech would not be compromised.]

Cite this paper

@article{Pelofsky2002TheVO, title={The voice of art and the art of medicine. The 2002 presidential address.}, author={Stan Pelofsky and Raina Pelofsky}, journal={Journal of neurosurgery}, year={2002}, volume={97 6}, pages={1261-8} }