Finding stability into the vortex: an introduction to the present issue of “Chronicles”

We called this number of Chronicles Finding stability into the vortex because that is what we are asked to do, in a vortex caused by an epidemic (pandemic?), economic, and media event.

We collected stories from different countries around the world asking doctors, humanists and others to write a page of considerations or a narrative on COVID-19. As you will read, they are rashly reflections, because in the vortex there are no certainties to hold on. There is also a writing that wishes to be a bit like – without any pretence – Quenau‘s Exercises in style, where the COVID-19 epidemic is rewritten multiple times using the classifications accepted worldwide by Medical Humanities and Narrative Medicine. And finally, we put resources where we can find stability in the vortex: meditation, breathing exercises, to calm the tumultuous emotions and thoughts that belong to the vortex.

The Decameron – with all the sincere hopes of not being in front of the plague of the fourteenth century – was written precisely to allow ten days of quarantine to pass. Ten young men, seven girls and three boys, to escape the black plague that rages over Florence, gather in a country villa and to pass the time. Every afternoon (except for Friday and Saturday days dedicated to penance) each one tells a story to companions, according to a theme established the day before by the Queen or King of the day.

Each of us can find his/her favourite theme, even to be carried out within the perimeter of the walls… For today physical, for tomorrow, we only hope mentally.

Maria Giulia Marini

Epidemiologist and counselor in transactional analysis, thirty years of professional life in health care. I have a classic humanistic background, including the knowledge of Ancient Greek and Latin, which opened me to study languages and arts, becoming an Art Coach. I followed afterward scientific academic studies, in clinical pharmacology with an academic specialization in Epidemiology (University of Milan and Pavia). Past international experiences at the Harvard Medical School and in a pharma company at Mainz in Germany. Currently Director of Innovation in the Health Care Area of Fondazione ISTUD a center for educational and social and health care research. I'm serving as president of EUNAMES- European Narrative Medicine Society, on the board of Italian Society of Narrative Medicine, a tenured professor of Narrative Medicine at La Sapienza, Roma, and teaching narrative medicine in other universities and institutions at a national and international level. In 2016 I was a referee for the World Health Organization- Europen for “Narrative Method of Research in Public Health.” Writer of the books; “Narrative medicine: Bridging the gap between Evidence-Based care and Medical Humanities,” and "Languages of care in Narrative Medicine" edited with Springer, and since 2021 main editor for Springer of the new series "New Paradigms in Health Care."

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