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Marketplace of the marvelous : the strange origins of modern medicine

by Janik, Erika,

Format: Print Book 2014
Availability: Available at 2 Libraries 2 of 2 copies
Available (2)
Location Collection Call #
CLP - Main Library Second Floor - Non-fiction R733.J33 2014
Location  CLP - Main Library
 
Collection  Second Floor - Non-fiction
 
Call Number  R733.J33 2014
 
 
Monroeville Public Library Non-fiction 610 JANIK
Location  Monroeville Public Library
 
Collection  Non-fiction
 
Call Number  610 JANIK
 
 
Summary
An entertaining introduction to the quacks, snake-oil salesmen, and charlatans, who often had a point

Despite rampant scientific innovation in nineteenth-century America, traditional medicine still adhered to ancient healing methods, subjecting patients to bleeding, blistering, and induced vomiting and sweating. Facing such horrors, many patients ran with open arms to burgeoning practices that promised new ways to cure their ills. Hydropaths offered cures using "healing waters" and tight wet-sheet wraps. Phineas Parkhurst Quimby experimented with magnets and tried to replace "bad," diseased thoughts with "good," healthy thoughts, while Daniel David Palmer reportedly restored a man's hearing by knocking on his vertebrae. Lorenzo and Lydia Fowler used their fingers to "read" their clients' heads, claiming that the topography of one's skull could reveal the intricacies of one's character. Lydia Pinkham packaged her Vegetable Compound and made a famous family business from the homemade cure-all. And Samuel Thomson, rejecting traditional medicine, introduced a range of herbal remedies for a vast array of woes, supplemented by the curative powers of poetry.

Bizarre as these methods may seem, many are the precursors of today's notions of healthy living. We have the nineteenth-century practice of "medical gymnastics" to thank for today's emphasis on regular exercise, and hydropathy's various water cures for the notion of regular bathing and the mantra to drink "eight glasses of water a day." And much of the philosophy of health introduced by these alternative methods is reflected in today's patient-centered care and holistic medicine, which takes account of the body and spirit.

Moreover, these entrepreneurial alternative healers paved the way for women in medicine. Shunned by the traditionalists and eager for converts, many of the masters of these new fields embraced the training of women in their methods. Some women, like Pinkham, were able to break through the barriers to women working to become medical entrepreneurs themselves. In fact, next to teaching, medicine attracted more women than any other profession in the nineteenth century, the majority of them in "irregular" health systems.

These eccentric ideas didn't make it into modern medicine without a fight, of course. As these new healing methods grew in popularity, traditional doctors often viciously attacked them with cries of "quackery" and pressed legal authorities to arrest, fine, and jail irregulars for endangering public safety. Nonetheless, these alternative movements attracted widespread support-from everyday Americans and the famous alike, including Mark Twain, Louisa May Alcott, and General Ulysses S. Grant-with their messages of hope, self-help, and personal empowerment.

Though many of these medical fads faded, and most of their claims of magical cures were discredited by advances in medical science, a surprising number of the theories and ideas behind the quackery are staples in today's health industry. Janik tells the colorful stories of these "quacks," whose oftentimes genuine wish to heal helped shape and influence modern medicine.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "Conventional medical treatment in nineteenth-century America was a high-risk, low-reward venture a dangerous and not very effective path to recovery. Dubbed heroic therapy, the usual remedy for most ailments involved some scary combination of bloodletting, blistering, and purging (with liberal administration of laxatives and emetics). The side effects of this therapy, along with dismal results, opened the door for a variety of alternative healing methods. Historian Janik chronicles the rise and fall and renewed popularity of alternative medicine. Alternative healers tended to reach out to women (recognizing their role as caregivers in the family) and tapped into the prevailing mind-set of Americans, who thought of themselves as self-reliant. Some of these remedies have persisted and prospered: manual manipulation and adjustments (by chiropractors and osteopaths), hypnosis, and the use of botanic medicines. Others have had less success and staying power: phrenology (reading the topography of the skull), magnetic healing, and hydropathy (treatment with cold water). Oscillating between arousing feelings of hope and doubt, alternative medicine in America endures.--Miksanek, Tony Copyright 2010 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "Janik (Apple: A Global History), series producer for Wisconsin Public Radio's Wisconsin Life, offers a particular perspective on 19th-century medicine with this survey of "irregular" treatments that Americans embraced as they turned away from standard medicine. Little changed for two centuries, standard medicine's "heroic" and often deadly offerings were eschewed for practices like heat and herb therapy, hydrotherapy, phrenology, and homeopathy. Janik reveals the significant role women played in the development of these treatments and spread of do-it-yourself medical books, almanacs, and family recipes for healing salves, prophylactics, and popular herbal remedies. Americans loved anything that "gave them the power to treat themselves," Janik notes-and 19th-century alternative systems did just that. Bottles of ready-to-use homeopathic remedies came in home kits, and Lydia Pinkham's medicinal brews not only brought neighbors flocking to her door in the 1870s, but her secret vegetable compound is still on the market in at least two variations. Janik argues that "complementary" and "alternative" therapies are just a 20th-century update of irregular medicine-and recognition by Congress, the Mayo Clinic, and major universities proves "the willingness of regular medicine to consider or at least tolerate the merits of their competitors, an almost unimaginable idea less than a century ago." She's delivered a must-read for medical history buffs, whether mainstream or maverick. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Alternative medicine -- History.
Medicine, Magic, mystic, and spagiric -- History.
Medicine -- Specialties and specialists -- History.
Medicine -- History.
Publisher Boston :2014
Language English
Description 337 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages 311-317) and index.
ISBN 9780807022085 (hbk. : alk. paper)
080702208X (hbk. : alk. paper)
Other Classic View