Terry Ratner RN, BS, MFA - nurse, writer, educator - click to return home
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Our Human Hearts: A Medical and Cultural Journey
by Albert Howard Carter III, PhD

Our Human Hearts is a nonfiction exploration of the meaning of the human heart. Albert Howard Carter, an adjunct professor of social medicine at the University of North Carolina's School of Medicine, reflects on the cultural and biomedical understandings of the human heart. The author interlaces medical and linguistic information with the stories of four heart patients, each with different illnesses and personal approaches to healing.

Many view the human heart as a repository for wisdom, emotion, courage, and soul. It's difficult for a nurse or surgeon to examine a heart, beating or not, without doing some soul-searching of their own. This is the intention of Carter's book-to explore the human side of the heart by giving a voice to the patients.

One patient, a 27-year-old athlete, is concerned with the basic structures and functions of the heart. He analyzes the terms we use for the heart, both medical and cultural, along with their implications. Another narrative follows the failings of a patient's heart on the cellular level for a chronic illness treated by pharmaceuticals rather than surgery. It's a story about Kay and how she attempts to give her life order and meaning.

Our Human Hearts takes the reader on a journey which reflects and critiques the separation of the heart's various meanings; specifically how our denial of the heart has contributed to its neglect through lifestyles, attitudes, and emotions. It shows us ways to heal our hearts by reassembling some of our deepest meanings of the heart.

The Kent State University Press
$22.95 (paperback)