Ever wonder how magicians know what card you pulled out of the deck, make objects vanish or unlink and link solid metal rings?
Christopher Morris, MD, knows how these tricks are performed, but he won’t tell you. A rheumatologist who has been in private practice for 25 years at Arthritis Associates, Kingsport, Tenn., he has also been a card-carrying member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians (IBM) for more than 40 years, obtaining the Order of Merlin rank.
Dr. Morris says rheumatologists and magicians are a lot alike in that they’re both sleuths who solve puzzles. Although he doesn’t pull rabbits out of hats, he can perform at least 100 different magic effects that will keep you watching and wondering, “How the heck did he do that?” His magic acts have amazed students in middle school, college fraternity brothers and rheumatologists at meetings.
Dr. Morris says his passion for magic began when his grandfather gave him his first magic set for his 8th birthday. His parents made it a tradition to buy him magic tricks throughout his childhood. In middle school, he entertained children at birthday parties and performed a few magic acts in his school play, but he rarely performed before large crowds. He says learning magic is time consuming, and he mostly reserves performances for family and friends.
Rheumatologists & magicians are a lot alike in that they’re both sleuths who solve puzzles.
While attending medical school at Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara, Mexico, he didn’t have much time to practice his magic. After graduating in 1987, he moved on to a rotating internship at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine, and completed his internal medicine residency in 1991 at the University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine, Knoxville. He completed the first year of his fellowship in 1992 at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C., and the second year at the Medical College of Georgia, Augusta. He joined his father’s rheumatology practice in 1993.
“There are very few specialties where you get to be a sleuth with your patients and try to solve puzzles,” he says. “Rheumatologists see strange and unusual diseases. But when you come up with a diagnosis that no one could figure out, that’s what makes it sort of fun. It makes you feel great.” Dr. Morris experiences similar feelings with magic.
During his undergraduate years at Tulane University in New Orleans, Dr. Morris helped arrange for Harry Blackstone Jr., a stage magician known for pulling at least 80,000 rabbits from his sleeves and hats, to perform at the university. By then, Dr. Morris was a bona fide magician and was allowed to watch the act from backstage.
Mr. Blackstone “was amazing to watch and learn from,” he says. “But I will never tell a soul how his tricks were done.”