from the Boston Globe, Tuesday, October 28, 1975
1929, a young Armenian refugee, Yousuf Karsh, was apprenticed to
Boston's John H. Garo, a prominent photographer of the time. Garo
encouraged his protege's cultural interests. My university, Karsh
says, was the Public Library and Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Karsh
had wanted to become a doctor but financial circumstances forced
him to pursue a career in photography. Now world-famous for his
portraits of great men, Karsh of Ottawa returned to Boston to repay
a debt of gratitude.
has assembled a portfolio of 12 of his portraits entitled "Healers
of Our Age," which has been published in cooperation with
the Boston Medical Library and the Polaroid Corporation. This is
a special limited edition portfolio of 590. Not
all the healers honored in the portfolio are physicians. Karsh has
included Helen Keller and Albert Einstein as well as heart specialist
Paul Dudley White, gynecologist Thomas Stephen Cullen, pathologist
William Boyd, and seven other eminent doctors. The portfolio contains
a brief biography of each subject, and an essay by Karsh on the
photographic encounter which produced the portrait.
by various kinds of greatness, Karsh has always felt that the medical
profession provided a special opportunity for benevolence and humanity.
He finds these expressed in the personal philosophies of the healers.
Jung told his students to learn their theories well, but to put
them aside when they "touch the miracle of a living soul."
Paul Dudley White said simply: "The patient must lead the way."
finds that great physicians are likely to be vain, but never arrogant.
"Arrogance is self-involvement. It is intolerable. But vanity
is self-enoblement. It makes a person want to do things his way,
but correctly. A little vanity is necessary."
"healers" were exceptions to the rule about vanity. Sir
Alfred Fleming, the disoverer of penicillin, wrote: "It (penicillin)
arrived nameless and numberless - all I did was notice it."
Fleming refused to take any financial benefit from the discovery.
Blalock, who perfected the surgical treatment for "blue babies,
rushed from the end of his thousandth operation to call the child's
mother from a wall telephone outside the operating room.
commissioned by Blalock's students to commemorate the historic operation,
had teased the surgeon about medical vanity the evening before.
Deeply impressed by the telephone call, Karsh apologized. "Dr.
Blalock, I take back everyting I said last night about the vanity
of doctors. If you have such a thing, which I doubt, you are more
than entitled to it."
his apprentice years, Karsh never entered a medical library. His
choice of Countway for his repayment to the city of Boston reflects
his view of reciprocity. "It is rarely possible to pay back
a debt in kind. Perhaps the best thanks is to aid a person who owes
us nothing - at some other place - at some other time."
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