Medicine, Disease and Society in Britain, 1750 - 1950 TheGolden Age of Quackery?:Unorthodox practice Lecture 3
Lecture Outline • 1. Definitions of a ‘quack’ and ‘quackery’ and problems • 2. The market and types of ‘quack’ • - General vs specialist • - Famous and successful ‘quacks’ • - ‘Quacks’ and sexual diseases • - Female/local healers • 3. C19th ‘quackery’ • - Continuation e.g. Morison’s Pills • - New Systems of medicine: • - Mesmerism • - Medical Botany • - Homeopathy • - Hydropathy • 4. Was the c18th the ‘golden age of quackery’?
Issues and Questions • The range and type of services we place within this broad category • The social, cultural and economic factors affecting provision and demand • The responses of ‘regulars’ and patients • How we might define a border between orthodox and unorthodox healers • How true is it to think of the C18 as the ‘Golden Age of Quackery’?
Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary 1755 A boastful pretender to arts which he does not understand. A vain boastful pretender to physic, one who proclaims his own Medical abilities in public places. An artful tricking practitioner in Physic
Doctor Humbug, an itinerant medicine vendor, selling his wares from a stage with the aid of an assistant. Coloured etching, 1799.
John Taylor, oculist, 1703-1772 He seems to understand the anatomy of the eye perfectly well; he has a fine hand and good instruments, and performs all his operations with great dexterity.’ Dr William King, Tunbridge Wells. An example of ‘how far impudence may carry ignorance.’ Samuel Johnson
James Graham (1745-94) The Celestial bed at the Temple of Health, London c.1775 Graham lecturing at Edinburgh
James Morison (1770-1840) made a fortune with his Vegetable Universal Pills.
Nineteenth century alternative medical systems • Mesmerism • Medical Botany • Homeopathy • Hydropathy
Mesmerism A patient being ‘mesmerised’ late c18th/early c19th Led to hypnosis in the c19th
Medical Botany or herbalism • Health movement on vegetable-based therapies • All ills were produced by cold and any treatment generating heat would aid recovery • Seventy plant remedies in the Thomsonian material medica.
Jesse Boot (1950-1931) 1863: Joins family business in Nottingham selling herbal remedies. 1884: Opens shop In Sheffield 1892: Opens larger manufacturing site 1909: Jesse Boot knighted 1913: 560 shops in Great Britain 1920: Boots Company is sold to an American for £2.25m. Nottingham flagship store, opened in 1904
Homeopathy Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1833 Laws of homeopathy Let like be cured by like (exemplified in the folk wisdom that hot compresses were good for burns, or that cowpox vaccination immunized against smallpox). Use of infinitesimals (serial dilution) - the smaller the dose, the more efficacious the medicine.
C18th Spa towns Buxton
Vincent Preissnitz’ Graffenberg Hydropathy Model • Environment • Pure cold water • Fresh air • ‘One must have mountains’ diet and exercise • Regimen • No mental exertion • No ‘physic’ (drugs, bloodletting) • Diet • Exercise • The Hydropathic Institution
Richard Claridge’s Hydropathic Regime • 4 am, sweating • 3 mins cold bath • Walk to springs • Breakfast • 10 am, douche • Walk to springs • Sitz and foot bath • 1 pm, dinner • 4pm, douche • 7pm, sitz and foot bath • Feet & legs bandaged • 9.30 to bed
Hydropathic centres: Malvern and Matlock • Targeting segmented markets ‘from posh to poor’ • Women • Variety of provision
Hydropathy as ‘quack’ practice • Charles Hastings v. James Wilson at Malvern • Provincial Medical and Surgical Journal 1842 - articles and responses
Richard Metcalfe, The Rise and progress of Hydropathy (1912), p.iv. There are two kinds of quacks: 1. the quack who advertises remedies which can do no good to anyone beyond transferring money from one pocket to another 2. the quack, so-called by the medical profession, who, though he cures pain and eases suffering, has the audacity to do it by methods of which the faculty is ignorant and is too superior to look into
Patients: popularity and publicity • Patients at Malvern • 600 in first season • 6,000 per year by 1861 • Networks important in early years • Endorsement in published patient accounts • Edward Bulwer Lytton, Confessions of a Water Patient (1845) • Richard Lane, Life at the Water Cure or a month in Malvern (1846)
Alfred Tennyson in a letter to fellow poet Edward FitzGerald “I am in a Hydropathy Establishment in Cheltenham (the only one in England conducted on pure Priessnitzian principles. I have had four crises (one larged than had been seen for two or three years in Gräfenberg – indeed I believe the largest but one that has been seen). Much poison has come out of me, which no physic would have brought to light…I have been here already upwards of two months. Of all the uncomfortable ways of living surely and hydropathical is the worst: no reading by candlelight, no going near a fire, no tea, no coffee, perpetual wet sheet and cold bath and alteration from hot to cold: however I have much faith in it.”
Edward Bulwer Lytton, Confessions of a water-patient, 1845. • ‘At the water-cure, the whole life is one remedy’. • ‘I threw physic to the dogs and went to Malvern’. • ‘the impatient rush into the open air…a hope that the very present was but a step…into a new and delightful region of health and vigour’.
Conclusion It is inaccurate to think of the c18th as a ‘golden age of quackery’ Many practices/services/products continued into the c19th and even increased New systems of medicines emerged: attacked by profession, accepted by patients Problem with definition of ‘quack’ - associated with fraud Difficult for patients to distinguish Some had a genuine belief in medicine/services they offered and were effective, just not qualified e.g. community local healer Only way to practice specialism e.g. oculists Who was calling who a quack? Regular practitioners and competition ‘Quackery’ demonstrates the failure of the profession to cure and consolidate