The woman who peed through her nose

This is the most extraordinary and perplexing case of all the many I’ve sifted through while finding material for this blog. It was printed in The American Journal of the Medical Sciences in 1827, and written by a Dr Salmon A. Arnold from Providence, Rhode Island.  Dr Arnold acknowledges in a footnote that a shorter … Continue reading The woman who peed through her nose

Toast and herbs

William Salmon was a seventeenth-century physician and a prolific writer, the author of numerous books on surgery and internal medicine. He also practised alchemy and astrology in an age which regarded these disciplines as legitimate and empirical sciences (his contemporary Isaac Newton was also an enthusiastic alchemist). In 1687 Salmon published a book entitled Παρατηρηματα (‘Observations’, … Continue reading Toast and herbs

In one side and out the other

Volume 6 of the Medical Facts and Observations, published in London in 1795, includes four cases submitted by a Dr Henry Yates Carter, who described himself as “surgeon at Kettley, near Wellington, in Shropshire”.  He was no mere country doctor: he had studied medicine in America and practised on the battlefields of the Revolution before … Continue reading In one side and out the other

The woman who vomited pins

In 1873 The Lancet reported this case from Belford Hospital, an institution which had been founded eight years earlier, and the first to serve the largely rural population around Fort William in Scotland. This was probably the strangest case anybody concerned had dealt with: Catherine M, aged twenty, a nurse-maid, was admitted on August 30th, … Continue reading The woman who vomited pins

Snake poo salesman

In 1862 an Edinburgh-trained physician, Dr James Hastings, published a slim volume about the treatment of tuberculosis and other diseases of the lung. It advocates the use of substances which much of the profession would regard as unorthodox, as he acknowledges in his preface: It has been suggested that the peculiar character of these agents … Continue reading Snake poo salesman

The poet’s skull and a boy’s bowels

The Scottish surgeon Archibald Blacklock is chiefly remembered today for the events of the night of March 31st, 1834, when he was one of a small group who entered the family mausoleum of Robert Burns in order to make a plaster cast of the poet’s skull. Blacklock was an enthusiastic proponent of the pseudoscience of … Continue reading The poet’s skull and a boy’s bowels