Nicole Angemi, aka @mrs_angemi, is a pathologist’s assistant in real life. But online she helms one of Instagram's most controversial accounts, a first-hand portal into the world of organ dissections and autopsies.
It's a world that very few of us know up close and personally. At first glance, @mrs_angemi's homepage is a colorful mosaic of gory, fleshy thumbnails reminiscent of Figure 1, the so-called Instagram for Doctors. There are dissected brains. Miscarried fetuses. Prolapsed uteruses. But while the blood, guts, and overall gnarlyness of her photos is what initially drew me to her work, it’s the detailed captions that have stuck with me. Angemi does not share such graphic content to spark gratuitous shock, but instead showcases them to reveal truths, no matter how nauseating, about the human body and its causes of death.
She makes a stern point that her pathology chops should not be confused with medical prescriptions. Angemi regularly reminds her followers that she is not a doctor. Her expertise is in identifying infections and recognizing diseases among the deceased. Some followers might DM her, asking for a diagnosis of a lump or bump, but Angemi is upfront that she can’t diagnose health issues of living people.
While @mrs_angemi has racked up more than 100,000 followers as of this writing, not everyone shares in her passionate mission to shed light on the postmortem world. Angemi faces constant anxiety over infringing on Instagram’s posting guidelines. She’s had countless photos "reported" by the Instagram community for reasons that have gone unexplained. Three of her accounts have unexpectedly shut down over the course of the year.
Peers in the medical world are also gunning for her Instagram account. Angemi's pathologic documentation may strike most of her followers as a worthwhile medical contribution to an otherwise vapid social media landscape, but she said some health professionals believe that the photos and videos of autopsies and dissections she shares should be kept within the confines of academia and medicine, away from the general public.
"If someone wants to see what an autopsy looks like," Angemi told me, as we ate lunch in her kitchen next to a freshly dissected placenta, "why can’t they have access to that?"