American Corner Innsbruck

    Lecture by Mag. Lucia Blasl


    Jan. 16, 2008, 7 p.m.



    The second presentation in the field of Medical Humanities given by Mag. Lucia Blasl provided the more than thirty members of the audience with insights into one of medicine’s – and thus humanity’s – most adamant scourges: the acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
    Mag. Blasl, a research and teaching assistant at the Department of American Studies at the University of Innsbruck as well as a graduate student at Innsbruck Medical University, started out by highlighting the disturbing chronology of AIDS, ranging from the first reported case in 1981 to the current global situation of the virus, which is still wreaking havoc especially in the sub-Saharan countries of the African continent. Having supplied the latest data on the status of the disease, Mag. Blasl gradually approached the core of her interdisciplinary research, the patient-doctor-relationship, which she investigated on the basis of memoirs and personal interviews. These revealed that the psychological burden shared by patients and doctors alike on their palliative journey equals a descent into the frustrating regions of the human psyche governed by denial, anger and – ultimately – resignation. In addition to describing the patient’s deplorable state of suffering and stigmatization, the presentation also focused on the doctor’s perspective, the ethical aspects and personal fears involved in treating patients with AIDS, sparking a stimulating discussion which was continued over snacks and refreshments.
    With her presentation on a yet unconquerable disease, Mag. Blasl joins the ranks of previous presenters who have managed the tightrope walk of supplying detailed information about the ACI’s fields of research while retaining a clear and comprehensive style accessible to each listener.
    (text: Andreas Leisner)



    Much has been written by and about AIDS patients and their families and friends, especially in the first years of AIDS after its emergence in early 1981. This talk, however, will examine AIDS from the literary perspective of American physicians, who were fighting an epidemic with no cure available and who strongly had to question their role as caregivers and healers. Doctors had to cope with death as a constant companion to an illness that was highly stigmatized and denied by society. A new set of ethical problems arose, with often crucial decisions regarding life-sustaining treatment in patients with AIDS, testing new medicine or stepping forward when colleagues refused to treat a patient. As will be shown in a selection of autobiographical accounts, doctor-patient relationships were extraordinary in this period, concentrating mainly on the amelioration of the quality of life and healing of the subjective troubles of one’s patients.



    American Corner Innsbruck
    Department of American Studies
    Herzog Friedrich Straße 3, 1. Stock (Altstadt, Claudiana)
    6020 Innsbruck

    T +43 512 507-7064, F +43 512 507-2879,