CJD: The play

A neurologist turns his conflicted feelings about a patient's death into a piece of high-energy performance art

Carlin Flora
Nov 2, 2006
Neurologists toil in uncomfortable ambivalence, according to James Jordan, a medical resident at Case Western University. "You're consistently dealing with someone who has a disease that is intellectually fascinating and that reveals how a certain part of the brain works," he said. "But simultaneously, that person is suffering and perhaps dying."A particularly harrowing case in point for Jordan was that of a 60-year-old man with Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. In just one month, the patient, a fellow baseball fan for whom Jordan developed a real affection, deteriorated completely. "It's the most horrifying disease I've come across." Jordan found a unique way of grappling with his conflicted feelings about having an experience that was simultaneously tragic and intellectually stimulating: He wrote a play called CJD and starred in it himself in a production in New York City.CJD was the first of Jordan's plays to be staged since 1996, when his series of...