One of the most intriguing personalities in Southern medical history of the nineteenth century is Dr. Henry Clay Lewis (1825-1850), whose fame rests not on his accomplishments in medicine, but upon his humorous writings published under the pseudonym "Madison Tensas, M.D., the Louisiana Swamp Doctor."
Though Lewis was a practicing doctor, his true identity as the author of the "Southern grotesque
) pieces was not known until after his death
. His works pre-dated the Southern Gothic style
), and are unusual for their time in that "[Lewis] presents his black characters with as much pain and grotesqueness as his white characters, steering away from the time's usual stereotypes
." You can read a longer biography and a summary of his style here
, or just dive in and read his works, which available online in
Odd leaves from the life of a Louisiana "swamp doctor"
, which was also published as
The swamp doctor's adventures in the South-west
(also available with fourteen illustrations
) on Archive.org.
posted by filthy light thief
on Jun 20, 2014 -
On Sept. 13, 1848, at around 4:30 p.m., the time of day when the mind might start wandering, a railroad foreman named Phineas Gage filled a drill hole with gunpowder and turned his head to check on his men. It was the last normal moment of his life. Other victims in the annals of medicine are almost always referred to by initials or pseudonyms. Not Gage: His is the most famous name in neuroscience. How ironic, then, that we know so little else about the man—and that much of what we think we know, especially about his life unraveling after his accident, is probably bunk.
—Phineas Gage, Neuroscience’s Most Famous Patient
by Sam Kean.
posted by Kattullus
on May 13, 2014 -
"My subject is a barren one – the world of nature, or in other words life; and that subject in its least elevated department, and employing either rustic terms or foreign, nay barbarian words that actually have to be introduced with an apology. Moreover, the path is not a beaten highway of authorship, nor one in which the mind is eager to range: there is not one of us who has made the same venture, nor yet one Roman who has tackled single-handed all departments of the subject."Naturalis Historia
was written by Pliny the Elder
between 77 and 79 CE and was meant to serve as a kind of proto-encyclopedia discussing all of the ancient knowledge available to him, covered in enough depth and breadth to make it by a reasonable margin the largest work to survive to the modern day from the Roman era. The work includes discussions on astronomy, meteorology, geography, mineralogy, zoology and botany organized along Aristotelian divisions of nature but also includes essays on human inventions and institutions. It is dedicated to the Emperor Titus in its epistle to the Emperor Vespasian
, a close friend of Pliny who relied on his extensive knowledge, and its unusually careful citations of sources as well as its index makes it a precursor to modern scholarly works. It was Pliny's last work, as well as sadly his sole surviving one, and was published not long before his death attempting to save a friend from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum
, famously recounted by Pliny's eponymous nephew Pliny the Younger
Here is a reasonable translation that is freely available to download from archive.org for your edification. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb
on Dec 16, 2013 -
In the late 1740s, John Wesley—a British evangelist and the co-founder of Methodism—published Primitive Physick, or, An Easy and Natural Method of Curing Most Diseases. The tome gave regular people ways to cure themselves, using items they could find in their own homes. - Here are some of his suggested home remedies.
posted by The Whelk
on Oct 29, 2013 -
PTSD and Gene Kelly's lost wartime star turn: For the last six decades or so, a copy [of "Combat Fatigue Irritability"] has been filed away, along with thousands of other films, at the National Library of Medicine. The only people it has been lost to are the public and Gene Kelly’s devoted and still numerous fans. But now the National Library of Medicine is featuring Combat Fatigue Irritability in Medical Movies on the Web, and the film will be given a well-deserved, though very belated, New York premiere, on October 5, 2013, at the New York Academy of Medicine. [more inside]
posted by theatro
on Sep 25, 2013 -
In less than an hour, the Supreme Court will hand down its final judgment in what has become one of the most crucial legal battles of our time: the constitutionality of President Obama's landmark health care reform law.
The product of a strict party line vote following a
of debate, disinformation
, and tense legislative wrangling, the Affordable Care Act
would (among other popular reforms
) require all Americans to buy insurance coverage by 2014, broadening the risk pool
for the benefit of those with pre-existing conditions.
The fate of this "individual mandate," bitterly opposed by Republicans despite its similarity to past plans touted by conservatives
(including presidential contender Mitt Romney
) is the central question facing the justices today
. If the conservative majority takes the dramatic step
of striking down the mandate, the law will be toothless, and in danger of wholesale reversal, rendering millions uninsured
, dealing a crippling blow to the president's re-election hopes, and possibly endangering the federal regulatory state
But despite the pessimism of bettors
, some believe
the Court will demur, wary of damaging
its already-fragile reputation
with another partisan 5-4 decision
. But those who know don't talk, and those who talk don't know
. Watch the SCOTUSblog liveblog
for updates, Q&A, and analysis as the truth finally comes out shortly after 10 a.m. EST.
posted by Rhaomi
on Jun 28, 2012 -
"I would point out to you that medical explanations are modern. That Americans today want medical explanations for things that in the 19th century would have been explained by hysteria, and in the 18th century would have been explained by religious conversion experiences in the context of the Great Awakening, when people were having these types of fits, and in the 17th century by witchcraft."
posted by empath
on Jan 30, 2012 -
Biomedical Ephemera, or, a Frog for your Boils
is "A blog for all biological and medical ephemera, from the age of Abraham through the era of medical quackery and cure-all nostrums. Sometimes featuring illustrations of diseases and conditions of the times, sometimes fascinating ephemeral medical equipment, and sometimes clippings and information about the theories themselves." The archive page
is also a useful starting point. via Things Magazine.
posted by Rumple
on Aug 29, 2011 -
Medicine in the Americas is a digital library project that makes freely available original works demonstrating the evolution of American medicine from colonial frontier outposts of the 17th century to research hospitals of the 20th century. [more inside]
posted by Trurl
on May 31, 2011 -
The Burns Archive
is a collection of over 700,000 historical photographs that document disturbing
subject matter: obsolete medical practices and experiments, death, disease, disasters, crime, revolutions, riots and war. Newsweek posted a select gallery
this past October, as well as a video interview and walk-through
with curator and collector Dr. Stanley B. Burns, a New York opthalmologist. (Via) (Content at links may be disturbing to some.) [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Apr 26, 2011 -
is what it says on the tin, a blog about Byzantium. It is written by Tom and Kim Sawford, with the occasional guest post by Laura Diaz-Arnesto. The blog has been going for over a year and a half now, and so has an extensive backlog of posts on a wide variety of subjects, for example: Byzantine holy relics in Siena in Tuscany
, Princess Theophano who married Holy Roman Emperor Otto II
, photos of mosaics and other art
, the horrific realities of prostitution
, the islands of Thasos and Lemnos
and a couple of posts on Byzantine medicine, mandrake
. Besides essays and photos the blog also links to various sites, articles, podcasts et cetera that dwell on Byzantine matters.
posted by Kattullus
on Dec 6, 2010 -
The day pain died.
"The date of the first operation under anesthetic, Oct. 16, 1846, ranks among the most iconic in the history of medicine. It was the moment when Boston, and indeed the United States, first emerged as a world-class center of medical innovation. The room at the heart of Massachusetts General Hospital where the operation took place has been known ever since as the Ether Dome, and the word 'anesthesia' itself was coined by the Boston physician and poet Oliver Wendell Holmes to denote the strange new state of suspended consciousness that the city's physicians had witnessed. The news from Boston swept around the world, and it was recognized within weeks as a moment that had changed medicine forever." [Via]
posted by homunculus
on Jun 9, 2009 -
No matter their approach, the typical French physician who accepted the notion of male hysteria continued to think that its victims were in some way sexually abnormal: "Thus, despite Charcot's innovative work, the male victim of hysteria in late-nineteenth century French medical imagination was still frequently envisioned as an effeminate heterosexual, an overt homosexual, or a physical or emotional hermaphrodite." If not different sexually, male hysterics were said to be different in other ways, such as race or nationality, among whom African, African-American, south Asian, Arab, or Eastern European Jewish men predominated. Outside of France, other methods of denial appeared, such as the suggestion that male hysteria was restricted to Frenchmen. The medical literature of the time is full of evasions and denials and contradictions of the truths that Charcot had quite obviously demonstrated.
- Macho Misery
, an extensive and interesting review of Hysterical Men: The Hidden History of Male Nervous Illness
. [more inside]
posted by Kattullus
on Apr 26, 2009 -
When Jamaican-born Mary Seacole
, an experienced nurse, volunteered her services to the British Army during the Crimean War, she was rejected. Undaunted, she travelled to Crimea at her own expense and built a "mess-table and comfortable quarters," which she called the "British Hotel," and began taking care of soldiers. Her work was snubbed by Florence Nightingale, who called Seacole "a woman of bad character" and insinuated that the convalescent hotel was little more than a bordello, but Mary was beloved by the men in her care who called her "Mother Seacole." Her autobiography, Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands [link goes to full text and illustrations]
, was published a year after the war ended. Mary, who was feted by high-ranking military men and high-born civilians, went on to other nursing-related pursuits, including a stint as personal masseuse to Alexandra, Princess of Wales. Her work in Crimea was but one highlight in a very interesting life. [more inside]
posted by amyms
on Aug 12, 2008 -
Thirty-six years after
the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse
recommended that "simple possession" of pot be decriminalised, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) has introduced a bill
, co-sponsored by Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), to remove federal criminal penalties for possession of up to 100 grams (about three-and-a-half ounces) of marijuana and the not-for-profit transfer of up to one ounce (28.3 grams). Drug reform advocates
lit up hailed
the legislation as "an important step toward bringing federal law into line with scientific fact, practical reality and public opinion." Is America, at long last, having a collective moment of sanity?
posted by kliuless
on Apr 20, 2008 -