Tag: History of Medicine

Quacks, Alternative Medicine, and the U.S. Army in the First World War

During the First World War, the Surgeon General received numerous pitches for miraculous cures for sick and wounded American soldiers. Ranging from anti-sea sickness remedies to complex elixirs for treating diseases like tuberculosis and venereal disease, America’s “quack” and non-traditional medical practitioners sought a seat at the table. Serving as a barrier between established medical… Read more →

“Remember—Don’t Drill a Hole in Your Head”: A Review of The Sawbones Book

The Sawbones Book: The Horrifying, Hilarious Road to Modern Medicine is an adaptation of a Maximum Fun Network podcast, Sawbones: A Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine. I reviewed the podcast for my own blog back in 2014, so I’ll keep the synopsis here short: Justin McElroy and Dr. Sydnee McElroy are married. She’s a doctor…. Read more →

The Politics of Sobreparto: Beyond the Medical Dimensions of a Postpartum Condition

Migrant indigenous Andean women living in the lowland Bolivian city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra often mention sobreparto (“following birth”) among the dangerous consequences of pregnancy. This condition occurs after delivery and manifests with cold chills, fever, and general weakness. If it’s left untreated, it can even lead to death. Some of the most… Read more →

VD in the Archives

For something that played such a prevalent role in life at the front, sex and venereal disease (or VD) have been largely underrepresented thus far in the public remembrance of the centenary of the First World War. In 1916, one in five of all admissions of British and Allied troops to hospitals in France and… Read more →

Mothers’ Natures: Sex, Love, and Degeneration in the Nineteenth-Century United States

Every so often, some viral article or other will declare that science “proves” or “confirms” that intelligence is inherited from mothers. (I know, because my own mother will promptly share it on Facebook.) Swiftly, of course, revisionary articles will appear correcting or debunking this claim, chastising armchair geneticists for their overly-simplistic understandings of the X-chromosome…. Read more →

Face to Face with Sharrona Pearl

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Sharrona Pearl about her new book, Face/On: Transplants and the Ethics of the Other. Below are excerpts from our conversation, which ranged from disability, to artistry, to parenting, to sex transitions, all illuminated by Sharrona’s insights from the history and culture of face transplants. Lara: I really… Read more →

Imagining Sex Change in Early Modern Europe

Once a historical mind starts thinking about the ways sex intersects with the histories of medicine, it’s almost more difficult to divorce the two. Sex itself is physiological, psychological, and, historically, subject to a range of medical scrutiny. The histories of some particular realms of medicine are equally and obviously inextricable from sex – from… Read more →

Book Review: Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America’s Most Storied Hospital

America’s oldest public hospital started as a tiny, one-room infirmary in a New York City almshouse in 1736. Two hundred and eighty-one years later, it’s a sprawling hospital center complex with almost 900 beds, a massive outpatient service, dozens of adult and pediatric specialties, and medical care provided in over 200 languages. David Oshinsky narrates… Read more →

On Hymens, Strength, and Nationalism

A few years ago, I was invited to give a talk at a reputedly radical university during that institution’s “Mexican Week,” an event celebrating the inauguration of a new Mexican ambassador to Canada (the country in which I work and teach). I was invited to speak on a topic of my choice treating women’s history… Read more →

Lady Doctors and Their Feminine Charms

By Carrie Adkins

Researchers at the University of Montreal recently reported that female physicians consistently outperformed their male counterparts when it came to providing high-quality care to elderly patients with diabetes. The study was extremely specific in its focus – it evaluated doctors’ level of compliance with three particular guidelines for long-term diabetes treatment – and fairly nuanced in its findings, attempting to account for factors like the ages of the physicians in question. It concluded that female doctors were more likely than male doctors to schedule regular eye exams, insist on frequent check-ups, and prescribe the combination of medications recommended by the Canadian Diabetes Association.