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
Some truly bizarre goings-on were reported at the Exeter meeting of the Provincial Surgical and Medical Association in 1842. A Dr Davis, of Presteign, made this report:
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
Towards the end of May 1797 Miss A.B., a young woman from the Isle of Man, was afflicted by a particularly tenacious bout of hiccups. It sounded
like the panting which occurs after violent exercise, or like an aspirate pronunciation of the interjection Ha! The pulse, respiration and speech were not in the least disturbed….It was very loud at times, … Read more
In the month of February, 1791, several persons in Philadelphia were seized, in about three hours after dining upon pheasants, with giddiness, violent flushing of heat and cold in the face and head, sickness at stomach, and repeated vomiting.
Some of the afflicted Philadelphians became delirious, or lost the power of speech. Some recovered after taking emetics to flush out … Read more
The first issue of Medical Observations and Enquiries, a medical journal founded in London in 1757, contains this sad little tale:
Elizabeth Orvin, born at St. Gilain, of a healthy robust constitution served the curate of that place for many years very faithfully, till the beginning of 1738, that she became very sullen, uneasy, and so surly, that the … Read more