On Tuesday, the 25th of March last, a French gentleman was sent to me by an Apothecary in this neighbourhood, complaining of a pungent, hot, and irritating sensation in the rectum ; which was considerably augmented during every evacuation per anum. These painful symptoms had commenced on … Read more
Nineteenth-century medical journals were much preoccupied with the sin of self-harm. One authority on mental illnesses even suggested that masturbation was the leading cause of insanity in asylum patients. An edition of the Canada Medical Journal published in 1870 contains a typical report:
Case 1st: J.C., aged 18. Was called to see him in the fall of 1868 … Read more
Cycling, rationally pursued, is one of the most health-giving forms of amusement; but when indulged in to excess, or under improper conditions, one of the most pernicious. I have been led to choose this subject for my paper from the fact that my … Read more
I recently came across a charming little medical book aimed at children, and first published in Germany in the 18th century. Its author, Bernhard Christoph Faust, was personal physician to an obscure German nobleman, the Count of Schaumburg-Lippe in lower Saxony. In 1792 he published Catechism of Health, a short work which uses the question-and-answer form of the Christian … Read more
As reported in the Medico-Chirurgical Review for 1833, a doctor treating a patient for a persistent case of ague (malaria) decided to try the fashionable galvanic therapy. This entailed a regular course of electric shocks administered to the patient’s body.
The … Read more
Spontaneous human combustion became a fashionable topic in the early nineteenth century, when a number of sensational presumed cases were reported in the popular press. Charles Dickens even killed off Krook, the alcoholic rag dealer in Bleak House, in this manner.
Sometimes the body of the victim was the only thing that had been burnt, suggesting that the combustion … Read more
There’s a menace lurking in your kitchen. From The Lancet, 1868:
When the attention of the Academy of Sciences of Paris was drawn, some time since, by M. Carret, one of the physicians of the Hotel Dieu of Chambery, in several papers, to the possible evil consequences of the use of cast-iron stoves, but little interest was excited in … Read more
The museum of the Royal College of Surgeons, in Dublin, contains the picture of a man whose face was eaten away by a pig, while he was lying in a state of intoxication. The entire nose, both cheeks, and parts of both ears, in fact, all the most eatable parts of his face, were chewed off by the animal; nevertheless, … 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
April 29th, 1905, and the ‘Minor Comments’ section of the Journal of the American Medical Association has a stark warning:
Even among the apparently milder forms of children’s athletics there are some that are capable of producing injury or are even deadly at times. The newspapers have recently reported the death from heart failure of three children in a skipping-rope … Read more