The Early Modern Commons

Search Results for "Mysterious illnesses"

Showing 1 - 20 of 63

Your search for posts with tags containing Mysterious illnesses found 63 posts

Off the scale

It is not often that an author in a major medical journal thinks it necessary to state that they are not mad. But in 1891 Dr W.J. Galbraith, Professor of Surgery at Omaha Medical College, writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association, reported...
From: Thomas Morris on 14 Jul 2019

The bottom feeder

A couple of months ago I wrote about a case from 1812 in which a patient with a massive facial injury was kept alive by lemonade injected into the rectum. Coincidentally I’ve just come across this report, published in 1878 in the American Practitioner,...
From: Thomas Morris on 5 Jul 2019

Millipede meningitis

Here’s a medical short story with a sting in the tail, first told in the French Gazette des Hopitaux in October 1860. The author is a Monsieur de Saint-Laurent, a surgeon at the  Hôpital Cochin in Paris. L– George, aged four months,...
From: Thomas Morris on 4 May 2019

Ulysse Trélat and an implausible discovery

Ulysse Trélat was a prominent French surgeon of the nineteenth century. He served as surgeon-in-chief to most of the major hospitals of Paris, published important textbooks and received the highest honour the French state can bestow, the Légion...
From: Thomas Morris on 19 Apr 2019

The practical joke

In 1873 a physician from St Louis, Dr Walter Coles, recorded a particularly unusual home visit he had recently been asked to make. His report was published in the St Louis Medical and Surgical Journal: On the evening of the 1st of May, we were summoned...
From: Thomas Morris on 6 Mar 2019

A wonderful accumulation

This notable case report was published in the Medico-Chirurgical Transactions in 1852.  The author, John Marshall, was a young surgeon in private practice in London; it is not clear how ‘Mrs B.’ came to be his patient, given that she...
From: Thomas Morris on 22 Feb 2019

The electric centipede

In December 1831 The Lancet reported these strange goings-on in France: A farmer’s wife, twenty-eight years of age, residing in the neighbourhood of Metz, had for a long time been affected with an unpleasant itching sensation in the nose with coryza…...
From: Thomas Morris on 11 Feb 2019

An infinite number of worms

Many medicines prescribed by physicians of the past were chemicals now known to be highly toxic. Mercury, arsenic and antimony were among the harmful substances regularly administered for a variety of conditions. In this case, published in the Philosophical...
From: Thomas Morris on 27 Jan 2019

A knotty problem

I recently learned a medical term I hadn’t heard before: ‘true knot’, meaning a knot that forms in the umbilical cord during pregnancy. Foetuses move around a lot inside the amniotic sac, and if the umbilical cord is long it is quite...
From: Thomas Morris on 23 Jan 2019

Four lambs and two puppies

This strange little tale appeared in various literary and medical journals in 1806. This version is taken from The Medical and Physical Journal, which appears to have been one of the first to publish it. It is a salacious snippet rather than a case report,...
From: Thomas Morris on 3 Jan 2019

He swallowed a serpent

A curious phenomenon common to medical history and folklore is that of the bosom serpent – stories of snakes, frogs, lizards and other animals living inside the human stomach or intestines. According to the physician and medical historian Jan Bondeson,...
From: Thomas Morris on 16 Nov 2018

Bedtime stories

If you enjoy reading this blog, and you like going to bed with an audiobook – good news!  The audio version of The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth is out now. It contains more than sixty of my favourite medical curiosities –...
From: Thomas Morris on 8 Nov 2018

The fiery finger

Can the human body spontaneously catch fire?  For many years people believed that it could. Spontaneous human combustion was a topic that fascinated medics and the general public for many years. In the early nineteenth century it was widely believed...
From: Thomas Morris on 31 Oct 2018

The stomach snail

William Rhind, a Scottish surgeon of the nineteenth century, had impressively broad interests. He was a botanist of some eminence, publishing a 700-page textbook on the subject which remained in print for over forty years. He was also an expert in geology...
From: Thomas Morris on 1 Aug 2018

A disarming experience

The French surgeon Alphonse Guérin is hardly a household name today – but for a brief period in the late nineteenth century he was a European celebrity. Summoned to Rome to treat Pope Pius IX for a leg ulcer, he made such an impression that...
From: Thomas Morris on 17 Jul 2018

The wandering needle

In 1889 a surgeon from the Adelaide Hospital in Dublin, Kendal Franks, wrote a notable case report for the British Medical Journal. His subject was renal calculus, otherwise known as kidney stones. During an operation in October that year he had removed...
From: Thomas Morris on 6 Jun 2018

An extraordinary quantity of worms

In 1801 a contingent of 20,000 soldiers commanded by General Charles Leclerc, the  brother-in-law of Napoleon Bonaparte, set sail for the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. Their mission was to recapture the former French colony of Saint-Domingue, now...
From: Thomas Morris on 24 Apr 2018

Revealed: the cure for hiccups

A striking report* was published in the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal in 1845 by Dr George Dexter, a physician from New York: Some time since, a singular case of hiccough was placed under my treatment. Its origin evidently was from long-continued...
From: Thomas Morris on 20 Apr 2018

The trumpeter and the walking stick

In is not unheard of for a soldier to be killed as the result of a swordfight. But it is not often that the circumstances are quite as unusual as those of this case, published in The Dublin Quarterly Journal of Medical Science in 1851 – with a patient...
From: Thomas Morris on 16 Apr 2018

Asleep while she gave birth

Things have been rather quiet on this blog in recent weeks, so apologies if you’ve been missing your regular fix of wince-inducing medical history. I’ve been busy working on a book which will be published in a few months’ time. ...
From: Thomas Morris on 9 Apr 2018

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