In 1824 the Transactions of the Association of Fellows and Licentiates of the King and Queen’s College of Physicians in Ireland reported an extraordinary case which would continue to be quoted in the medical literature for many decades. The case was reported in a paper whose lengthy title was abbreviated to the rather snappier ‘Dr Pickells’ case of insects in … Read more
In 1872 a case reported in The Lancet made quite a stir in the international journals. For once, it concerned a patient who was perfectly healthy – although he had spent four years persuading London’s leading doctors that he was gravely ill. He was regarded as a fraudster and condemned as a malingerer – but this looks a clear-cut case … Read more
This extraordinary tale appeared in The Medico-Chirurgical Review in 1825:
Rachel Hertz had lived in the enjoyment of good health up to her fourteenth year; she was then of a fair complexion, and rather of the sanguineous temperament. In August 1807, she was seized with a violent attack of cholic, which induced her to apply to Professor Hecholdt, and this … Read more
Mademoiselle Melanie had enjoyed good health up to the age of twenty-one, when she began to suffer from dry cough, with pain in the chest and headache; in January, 1841, she was attacked by pleurisy of the right side, and since then has continued to suffer from pain in that region.… Read more
A previous post about the boy who vomited millipedes proved surprisingly popular – so when I came across this tale of a girl who cried spiders it seemed too good to waste.
On February 5th 1840, Dr Lopez, a physician from Mobile, Alabama, visited a young woman in Charleston. The previous week she had been staying with friends in … Read more
A boy, fifteen years of age, the son of a labourer named Griffiths, living in the village of Bucknill, near Knighton, had for some months complained of pain in his stomach, which did … Read more
News of a strange malady, unique to the inhabitants of a single country, comes from the edition of The Medical Museum for 1764:
The Swiss are subject to a disorder, which is called by some Nostology, by others Nostomany, and by some again Philopatridomany.
As any medic with a working knowledge of ancient Greek will tell you, ‘philopatridomany’ means ‘ardent … Read more
Catalepsy is a strange condition in which the patient keeps a fixed, rigid posture, even one which looks abnormal and uncomfortable. The limbs often display waxy rigidity, meaning that it is possible to move them into any position without resistance. It is a typical feature of a catatonic state – in which patients are apparently unresponsive to pain or … Read more
Sometimes in early medical journals a case history begins conventionally enough, before turning into something startlingly unexpected. This is from Medical Essays and Observations, 1782:
In February last a young Man was wounded in a Duel with a small Sword, which entred about four Inches below the right Nipple, and a little towards the Back; by probing the Wound, … Read more
Forget drinking in pregnancy; here’s something far more dangerous. From the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 1695:
A lady was delivered of a girl, with a wound in her breast, above 4 fingers long, extended obliquely downwards, over the whole breast. I found not only the wound outwardly in the skin, but after a nearer examination, I perceived … Read more