Medical Humanities & Tuberculosis: thinking with Stories during Recent Years


  • Mariano Martini Department of Health Sciences, University of Genoa, Genoa, Italy
  • Francesco Brigo Department of Neurology, Hospital of Merano (SABES-ASDAA), Italy
  • Davide Orsini University Museum System of Siena (Simus), History of Medicine, University of Siena, Italy



History of Tuberculosis, Medical Humanities, Narrative Medicine, Ethics, Storytelling, Arts, Literature


Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the oldest diseases known to affect humanity and is still a major public health problem. Today TB is one of the ten most frequent causes of death in the world. It is caused by the bacillus Mycobacterium tuberculosis, isolated by Robert Koch at the end of XIX Century when it was one of the most common diseases in the population.TB has caused millions of deaths in various historical periods. A social disease, TB has featured prominently in Medical Humanities (MH) on account of its great impact on literature, the arts, music etc... There is an excellent relationship between the arts, literature to TB, and the influence and effects of TB on the humanistic disciplines. Art, music, literature are expres- sions of emotions, feelings, passions, but they also talk about empathy. Through our path, we will try to show that the approach to TB should be part of the medical education, through the study of MH and also through listening to a patient’s story.