Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine is a literary journal dedicated to promoting the theory and practice of Narrative Medicine, an interdisciplinary field that enhances healthcare through the  effective communication and understanding between caregivers and patients. Our name Intima has a specific resonance in the field: Narrative Medicine defines itself as the intimate interface between two people, one as healer, one as being healed, who both yield and gain from the experience of the clinical encounter.

 The word intima itself has an anatomical reality: It is  the infinitesimally thin layer lining a blood vessel, where the vehicle and its cargo meet, speeding blood to the heart and brain, an apt analogy for narrative as we define it.

Intima was created in 2010 by a group of graduate students in the Master of Science program in Narrative Medicine  at Columbia University; the first issue of Intima was Fall 2011. Some seven issues later, Intima has attracted writers in the literary and medical fields from around the world. In a recent issue, for example, our contributors have included a psychology professor at the University of Warsaw, a bone cancer survivor from Boston, a nursing student at Northeastern, a professor of visual communication at Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario, and a patient advocate from Huntsville, Alabama.

In addition to our two issues a year, Intima hosts Twitter chats (#intimachat). Recent ones were with writer Louise Aronson, Sayantani DasGupta reflecting on her TedX Talk on Narrative Humility, and 33Charts's Bryan Vartabedian, a professor of pediatrics at Baylor. Crossroads, a weekly blog post written by contributors and editors, reflects how Narrative Medicine themes in the current issue reflect back on our Archives.

The Art of Anatomy by Khalil Harbie.  Intima , Fall 2013

The Art of Anatomy by Khalil Harbie. Intima, Fall 2013

Intima has also established a foothold in the health humanities world through its annual essay contest. The first  was judged by Susannah Cahalan, author of the New York Times bestseller Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness. Participants responded to a quote by Virginia Woolf: "There is, let us confess it (and illness is the great confessional), a childish outspokenness in illness; things are said, truths blurted out, which the cautious respectability of health conceals. About sympathy for example—we can do without it." That powerful quote served as a nexus between creativity and moving illness narratives.

We also host readings at New York City’s Bowery Poetry Club. These nights allow contributors and audience members a sense of involvement  with the work published in the Intima.