body language

I'll Hold Your Arthritic Hand even if You Can't Hold Mine

Renoir, Aline, and Coco, 1912Renoir, Aline, and Coco, 1912At the time of Dr. Fritz's first visit with her patients, she explores their social histories. Taking a comprehensive social history is a critical part of being a good physician. Why? Because social histories—family relationships, social relationships, work, hobbies, pets, activities, exercise, habits, etc—tell physicians a lot about their patients; social histories are a window into patients' presenting problems and offer a glimpse into the structures that will support the suggested treatments. 

That's what I think about when I gaze upon this image of the French impressionist Auguste Renoir and his friends. I mean, look how frail he is as a result of the limited treatments available for Rheumatoid Arthritis in the early 1900s—Renior is slumped back in his chair, his feet are bound in braces in an attempt to slow their deforming, his hands are gnarled. 

And yet he has these very nice people with him. 

I like to explore the body language in this image...first of all, I like it that they're all outside in the fresh air together. Both the child and the woman lean in toward the artist...it's not, however, as if they're propping him up. I get the feeling they simply gravitate to him. They gaze in his direction, and they're both smiling at Renior rather than at the camera. Nice. And the child wears a hat exactly like Renoir's hat! Seriously, that's love, isn't it? And the ample woman in the polka-dotted dress covers Renoir's knotted hand with her own wide one.

What a fortunate man Renior was—all the while he lived with Rheumatoid Arthritis, he continued to do work he loved while sitting outside in the company of young people and a wide woman who love him. 

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