Date of Award
Medical Doctor (MD)
John H. Warner
Contributing to the growing field of graphic medicine, this thesis uses the medium of comics to place the memoirs of the author’s grandfather, Dr. Peter Stern, who underwent medical education in Germany during World War II and served as a medical translator at the Nuremberg Doctors’ Trial, alongside the author’s own experiences of medical education during the COVID-19 pandemic and the surrounding years. Utilizing the unique characteristics of the comics medium, this project takes a diachronic approach to analyzing and conveying medical socialization and psychological processes that take place during medical training, noting ways that many of these processes contributed to the participation of physicians in medical atrocities during the Holocaust. At the center of the work are the processes of dehumanization and desensitization, and the role of narrative and reflection in countering these forces. The project also examines how global crisis modulates these processes and medical education more generally. Finally, the thesis argues the benefits the comics medium provides for medical scholarship. Drawing from history, sociology, psychology, medical ethics, art history, and literary criticism, the thesis is comprised of 100 pages of comics based on the experiences of the author and of Dr. Stern, alongside critical analysis of the comics. Through these and other stories, it argues that the processes of medical socialization, dehumanization, and desensitization are in many ways unchanged; however, both periods point toward the power of narrative—particularly bearing witness and reflection—in restoring the human to the practice of medicine. Modern medical education is increasingly making efforts to codify this realization into its curricula. Comics in particular are able to center the role of witnessing, and to challenge medicine’s privileging of the objective.
Hasselmo, SimoneElise Stern, "Becoming A Doctor, Becoming A Monster: Medical Socialization And Desensitization In Nazi Germany And 21st Century USA" (2023). Yale Medicine Thesis Digital Library. 4147.