A book club of their own

Move over Oprah, there's a new book club in town: Mayo's Neurology Book and Film Club. The most recent issue of Practical Neurology (always on our reading list) has an interesting little exposé on the greatest little book and film club you've probably never heard of, written by two of the club's members, Mayo neurologists Anhar Hassan, M.B., B.Ch., and Eelco Wijdicks, M.D., Ph.D.

BookClub760WebThe book club was founded in 2010 by a group of neurology residents, and its membership has grown to include fellows and consultants, as well. It's essentially open to anyone who's interested in discussing "neurological disorders and their vicissitudes." (We don't know what it means, either.) And to that end, the club holds a "monthly event to discuss a book or movie with a neurological theme" that's been "suggested and voted upon" by club members.

The group brainstorms a list of questions pertaining to the book or movie's neurological slant to help spark an in-depth discussion. "Typically, we discuss artistic rendering of the disorder, the overall context in which the neurological disorder is portrayed, our clinical experience regarding similar cases, and how the book or film enhanced and appreciated empathy for the disorder," the doctors write. The monthly meeting "rotates between residents' and consultants' homes." Movies are "mostly watched in a home theatre" … with movie theater popcorn. (Okay, the popcorn was our artistic rendering.)

The club's book list has included both "factual or fictional accounts of neurology." Works like The Diving Bell and The Butterfly (which deals with "locked-in syndrome"), The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down (epilepsy and cross-cultural communication), and Tinkers (also epilepsy). On the movie side, their film list has included such works as Iris (Alzheimer's disease), The Sea Inside (physician-assisted suicide in quadriplegia), The King's Speech (stuttering), and The Intouchables (pain with quadriplegia, among other neurological themes).

Drs. Hassan and Wijdicks write that the "initial motivations" for the Neurology Book and Film Club were twofold. First, they wanted to provide "a social gathering on equal footing for participants" that could help increase "rapport among colleagues" along with an "appreciation of the arts." Second, from an "altruistic" standpoint, they also wanted the club's meetings and discussions to help inspire "empathy among physicians." At the very least, they write, the club's meetings have helped "expand our intuitive as well as intellectual knowledge in neurology," while giving members a deeper "appreciation for disorders we encounter day to day." (We can all appreciate that.)

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