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Controversial anatomy books
January 13, 2013 7:39 AM   Subscribe

Anatomy is a respected medical science, aims at a better knowledgement of human body structures. there were two books in Anatomy that made a lot of controversy, the first one is Atlas of Topographical and Applied Human Anatomy by Eduard Pernkopf, and the second one is The Anatomical Basis of Medical Practice by by Professors R. Frederick Becker, James S. W. Wilson, and John A. Gehweiler.

Human Anatomy is a great medical science that study gross structures of human body. Anatomy mean to cut in Ancient Greek. Anatomy study is important specially for persons involved in medical field, and there are a lot of anatomy books with Gray's Anatomy being the most famous book. two books published in anatomy made a lot of controversy, the first was an atlas by the Nazi anatomist Pernkopf in which he used illustrations from cadavers of war prisoners. the atlas is not easily available and some collectors sell copies of it for about 1000$. the second one by R. Frederick Becker and others used a pornographic pictures of nude women in the text to illustrate surface anatomy, and the book was eventually banned from publication. inspite of all of this, both books represent a unique approaches in understanding anatomy.
posted by Ahmed_Nabil (18 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow, those are both really interesting books and stories. Thanks for posting them.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:01 AM on January 13, 2013


The self-justification for that Becker book is almost hilarious:
“Perhaps we should have included photographs of garden-variety, American males and females who have let their physiques go to pot. Instead, we used female models as model females. The student will see the ordinary specimen every day. Only on rare occasions will the attractive, well-turned specimen appear before him for consultation. He should be prepared for this pleasant shock. For the growing ranks of female medics, we inlcuded the body beautiful of a robust, healthy male. We are sorry that we cannot make available the addresses of the young ladies who grace our pages. Our wives burned our little address books at our last barbecue get-together.”
Whoa, bummer that you squares feel so threatened by a real swinger, maaaaaaaan. It sounds like the "student" could see a "attractive, well-turned* specimen" every month, with a staple through her navel.

*What, does he think that they're made on a lathe?
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:46 AM on January 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


Another good overview of Pernkopf's Atlas and its controversy is Eduard Pernkopf’s Atlas of Topographical and Applied Human Anatomy: The Continuing Ethical Controversy [PDF]
posted by blob at 8:47 AM on January 13, 2013


I took gross anatomy this past semester as part of my PhD course work and really enjoyed the actual dissection part of it. However, I realized that yep - medicine was fundamentally a masculine field for a very long time, and that legacy still wanders around the field.

For example, the mnemonic we were taught (by our TAs, two second year male med students), to remember the fibers transmitted by the cranial nerves? "Some Say Marry Money, But My Brother Says Big Breasts Matter More." And to remember the names of the cranial nerves? "Oh, Oh, Oh, To Touch And Feel Virgin Girls' Vaginas? Ah, Heaven."
posted by ChuraChura at 9:10 AM on January 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Gross anatomy", yech.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 9:26 AM on January 13, 2013


Greys' Anatomy
posted by zippy at 10:17 AM on January 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I must say, I find the conclusion of the linked Riggs article on the Pernkopf "atlas" disturbing: "The author further suggests that [continued] use of the atlas is itself the most fitting tribute to those who died for it, whether they were victims of Nazi repression or not." Perhaps to Riggs' mind, victims of genocide can have their senseless deaths redeemed by having their bodies donated to science, but this is not his decision to make.

The most fundamental precept of modern medicine, and that most profoundly violated by Nazi doctors (the infamous Mengele and his numerous, less famous peers), is that of informed consent. This precept extends to the donation of bodies to science. We may only ethically dissect the bodies of individuals who gave their consent, or whose relatives give consent in their stead after their deaths, based in their belief that this is what the individuals would have wanted.

We are centuries past the era in which anatomists acquired bodies for dissection via the services of grave robbers. To me, it seems that Riggs is arguing we may return to it, given our high-minded goals of spreading knowledge and compassion. How one teaches compassion by looking at the bodies of people who were murdered and then flayed, displayed in a book making no note of these facts, is not at all clear.
posted by DrMew at 10:59 AM on January 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


ChuraChura: "...For example, the mnemonic we were taught (by our TAs, two second year male med students), to remember the fibers transmitted by the cranial nerves? "Some Say Marry Money, But My Brother Says Big Breasts Matter More." And to remember the names of the cranial nerves? "Oh, Oh, Oh, To Touch And Feel Virgin Girls' Vaginas? Ah, Heaven.""

Though there do exist several less-offensive cranial nerve mnemonics. Vestibulocochlear-Glossopharyngeal-Vagus can also tack sartorial with "Very Good Velvet," and my dad remembers being taught "On Old Olympus' Towering Top, A Finn And German Viewed Some Hops."

I always like the more egalitarian mnemonic about bones of the hand, "Some Lovers Try Positions That They Can't Handle," (for scaphoid, lunate, triquetrum, pisiform, trapezium, capitate, and hamate).
posted by The White Hat at 11:03 AM on January 13, 2013


Yeah, I amended my mnemonic to "Odor Of Orangutan Terrified Tarzan After Forty Vicious Gorillas Violently Attacked Him!" - apparently, this is the mnemonic Duke uses after making a conscious effort to use less sexually aggressive memory techniques.

I do love the carpal mnemonic, though our scaphoid was sexy.
posted by ChuraChura at 11:32 AM on January 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Even as a woman I didn't mind the sexy mnemonics in my anatomy class, but I definitely took issue with a memory device whose first three words were "Oh, oh, oh." Seriously, how does that help anyone remember which one is which?

I haven't looked through most of the post, but the few titillating images I did make it to made me kind of jealous that we used such a boring textbook in my class. I mean, I was too embarrassed to study in the coffeeshop anyway, even with the super-hairy and pot-bellied models in my books. Here in the respiratory system chapter is a photo of a naked man with a line drawing that shows where the lungs are... but no, we can't be bothered to crop the picture at the waist. Every page turn was a potential minefield.
posted by vytae at 12:25 PM on January 13, 2013


Should be tagged JGBallard.
posted by nixt at 12:31 PM on January 13, 2013


See also William Sheldon's Atlas of Men.
posted by larrybob at 12:46 PM on January 13, 2013


I have been teaching anatomy for many years and while I do not teach students the lewd mnemonics, they always find them on their own. Admittedly, the students who have taken the time to look for mnemonics tend to have better study habits and generally do better in my classes. But overall, I find that topics related to something racy, sexy, edgy, gross or any other 'not boring' words you can think of... tend to be the topics that are remembered by the students.

So I'm not entirely against tactful placement of these things when educating students.
posted by makeshiftjoy at 1:38 PM on January 13, 2013


From the racy textbook:
If you think that once you have seen the back side of one female, you’ve seen them all, then you haven’t sat in a sidewalk café in Italy where girl watching is a cultivated art. Your authors, whose zeal in this regard never flags, refer you to figures III-IV and VIII as proof that female backs can keep an interest in anatomy alive.
Oh wow. So it's not just sexy anatomy pictures, the text itself is... remarkably nonclinical. I suppose its a sign of how far women's rights have come that this seems amusing to me in today's context, rather than offensive. Women now have so much more power than they did in the early 70s when this book was published, so I don't feel threatened by this. It fits into the same category in my mind as anachronistic ads claiming that one brand of cigarettes is a favorite of doctors. Laughable.

All that is to explain why I just checked my city's library catalog to see if they might have a copy of this textbook: I thought it might be amusing to page through. Unfortunately the closest match is "The Anatomical Basis of Dental Hygiene." I don't think even naked models could make that any fun.
posted by vytae at 2:29 PM on January 13, 2013


I suppose its a sign of how far women's rights have come that this seems amusing to me in today's context, rather than offensive. Women now have so much more power than they did in the early 70s when this book was published, so I don't feel threatened by this. It fits into the same category in my mind as anachronistic ads claiming that one brand of cigarettes is a favorite of doctors. Laughable.


Yeah, when women were a minuscule percentage of medical school students, this would have pretty much qualified as "hostile work environment" rather than quaint.
posted by availablelight at 4:26 PM on January 13, 2013


I remember a competitive memorizer who told me that lewd, disgusting, or otherwise "colorful" mnemonics were the most effective, which is why so many of the most popular ones are suggestive. So I suppose now that sexual mnemonics are non-PC, the next option would be really gross ones? I guess medical students should be okay with that.
posted by d. z. wang at 4:59 PM on January 13, 2013


I don't think it's too much to ask that professors and teaching assistants speaking in an official capacity for a school not giggle about vaginas. Especially in a medical context. There's a difference between sexy (see my scaphoid, for example) and sexist.
posted by ChuraChura at 8:47 PM on January 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Those mnemonics are nothing compared to what electric engineers used.
posted by ymgve at 2:45 AM on January 14, 2013


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