New Voices: Henry Marsh

Granta, 3 September 2012

‘I had a patient who had a tumour of the pineal gland. The dualist philosopher Descartes, who argued that mind and brain are entirely separate entities, placed the human soul in the pineal gland. It was here, he said, that the material brain in some magical and mysterious way communicated with the mind and with the immaterial soul. I wonder what he would have said if he could have seen my patients looking at their own brains on a video monitor, as some of them do when I operate under local anaesthetic.’

This article is an early version of what the chapter now known as ‘Pineoctyma’, the first chapter of Do No Harm, followed by an interview with Henry. ‘Every day at work is a human drama, often tragic – I do not want it to disappear unremarked.’

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About hollyharley

Editorial assistant for Weidenfeld & Nicolson non-fiction. Also a lover of Classics, cats, lifting and fossil-collecting.