Vape Fear

In Martin Scorsese’s 1991 remake of Cape Fear, Robert De Niro plays sociopathic Max Cady, who has recently been released from prison. Years earlier, his attorney, Sam Bowden portrayed by Nick Nolte, deliberately withheld evidence during a criminal trial which would have seen Cady acquitted.

This of course enraged Cady and fueled a desire for revenge. As punishment, he stalked and brutalized the Bowden family. Yet, being a true believer, he also felt that by carrying out his terrible deeds he was helping Bowden achieve a type of moral and spiritual redemption. In short, he felt his actions were serving Bowden’s interests.

tumblr_mvoxandish1qeqn7eo3_1280

In 2016, consumers, politicians, and health officials are going through Vape Fear. Due to lack of evidence, we are being tested by a product in the marketplace with a potential to improve health outcomes and cause other, if unknown, health problems.

It’s a dual-purpose product, in that it has recreational and medical applications. And in the public arena, opponents and supporters of e-cigarette regulations have contested the best approach to it.

Supporters of stiff regulation declare that children and young people need to be shielded from products that imitate smoking and might encourage nicotine addiction. (Think Mrs. Lovejoy in the Simpsons.) They favour regulation that might guarantee product safety and quality. These individuals also usually advocate on behalf of a precautionary approach – at least until there is sufficient evidence that e-cigarettes don’t undermine recent successes at controlling tobacco.

Opponents of stiff regulation, by contrast, argue that vaping is significantly less harmful than conventional cigarettes and beneficial in helping smokers to quit. They want minimal restrictions on availability and often absolute freedom for advertising, promotion and the use of e-cigarettes in public. (Think Charlton Heston and guns being pried from his cold dead hands.) Restrictions, this camp argues, might put off smokers from swapping to safer alternatives and limit the opportunity of curbing tobacco consumption. Here harm reduction trumps all other suits.

Now, against this messy backdrop, governments have taken action.

New EU regulations in May imposed standardised quality control on liquids and vaporisers across the union. They also required disclosure of ingredients in vaping liquids and child-proofing and tamper-proofing for liquid packaging.  And the NHS has backed e-cigarettes as a quitting aid.

In March, the Scottish government’s Health Bill banned under-18s from both buying the devices and limiting their advertising, which followed Health Scotland’s position paper in March 2015 that “NHS Boards must balance the benefits of e-cigarettes use to smokers with any potential concerns about impact on non-smokers.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. government has also taken broad steps to crack down for the first time on e-cigarettes, which have been growing in popularity among teens and is projected to be a 4 billion dollar industry this year.

The Food and Drug Administration’s move in May brought regulation of e-cigarettes in line with existing rules for cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and roll-your-own tobacco. This had been highly anticipated after the FDA issued a proposed rule two years ago on how to supervise the e-cigarette industry.

“Millions of kids are being introduced to nicotine every year, a new generation hooked on a highly addictive chemical,” U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell stated during the announcement of the new rules. She asserted too that health officials still don’t have the scientific evidence showing e-cigarettes can help smokers quit, as the industry asserts, and avoid the known ills of tobacco.

In all of this, though, a Vape Fear persisted.

Similarly, heart experts recently found that vaping damages key blood vessels in the heart in a similar way to normal cigarettes, and it’s “far more dangerous than people realize.” University College London heart expert Professor Robert West noted, “It would certainly be fair to say the study shows electronic cigarettes are not without any risk.”

Researchers at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Rome thus decided to call the NHS decision to support e-cigarettes “premature.”

Added to all this is the idea of vaping garage labs, a part of e-cigarette mythology that’s difficult to shake. While no one has been publicly exposed for mixing juice in an actual garage, many in the industry have confessed privately that some set-ups that are only marginally better. It was and remains the nascent industry’s dirty little secret.

In my home country of Canada, Vape Fear is certainly present. According to the CBC’s celebrity doctor Brian Goldman, “my sense is that key thought leaders in Canada are alarmist about e-cigarettes.” They “ignore evidence,” “cling to the notion that nicotine addiction, as opposed to combusted tobacco products, is the paramount health problem,” and “overestimate concerns that e-cigarettes act as a gateway to regular tobacco use.”

For Goldman, it’s well past time that his colleagues “look up the facts” and stop “dissing a smoke cessation tool with a lot of potential.” It can serve the interests of public health. Jesse Kline for the National Post has likewise told Canadians, “Don’t believe the fear campaign — e-cigarettes can save millions of lives.”

In Cape Fear, Sam Bowden’s teenage daughter – played by Juliette Lewis – was tormented and assaulted by De Niro’s Max Cady, but she manages to survive. She tells the audience that her holiday in North Carolina had been so peaceful beforehand, “when the only thing to fear on those enchanted summer nights was that the magic would end and real life would come crashing in.”

With vaping, we know this won’t occur until all multitudinous studies have been completed. And regulators and health authorities reach consensus.

Until that point, the regulation and use of e-cigarettes in Canada, the United States, and Scotland will continue to spark serious challenges and health concerns.

Without reliable data and hard evidence, and in a state of affairs where no one has a claim to the unassailable truth, regulations that curtail access and promotion to young people appears to be the surest policy in overcoming Vape Fear.

University of Strathclyde

I just started a new job as a Lecturer at the University of Strathclyde, based in Glasgow. I’m absolutely thrilled to be a part of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. It was a big, big move – from Saskatchewan to Strathclyde – and, to be honest, I’m still making the adjustment.

( Chips v. Fries ** Football v. Soccer ** Jumper v. Sweater ** Pants v. Underwear ** and so on, and so on…)

Luckily, the transition has been eased by amazing new colleagues, who are quite simply awesome. All the worst horror stories you hear about in academia, including internecine squabbling or raging egomaniacal personalities colliding with each other over hum-drum topics, aren’t an issue here. There’s way too much collegiality and friendliness. Everyone’s chipping in. It’s weird. And I like it.

I will be helping with two modules: (1) Disease and Society & (2) Madness and Society. It’s gonna be a blast!

EpiPen Price Gouging is Old News

On Thursday, Mylan announced a series of steps that will make its EpiPen more affordable for some patients. Over the past few years, Mylan had raised a standard two-pack of EpiPens to roughly $600. It had cost $100 in 2009. Then, following a recent uproar, including a public tongue-lashing from Hillary Clinton and a US Senator whose daughter uses the product, Mylan NV (MYL) said Wednesday it would help reduce the cost of the emergency allergy drug for people who are struggling to afford it. Clinton, for her part, became  excoriated Mylan’s “price gouging,” kicking off another selling spree on Wall Street, where Mylan’s stock has plummeted roughly 11% and the Nasdaq Biotech index saw a 3.4% decline, which was the worst of the summer.

Epipen

In a press release, Mylan said it would provide instant savings cards worth $300 to patients who have to pay full price for the drug out of pocket. That amounts to about a 50% price cut for people without insurance or for patients with high deductible plans.

“We responded this morning, first and foremost, ensuring that everybody that needs an EpiPen has an EpiPen,” Mylan CEO Heather Bresch said in an interview with CNBC. “As a mother I can assure you that the last thing we could ever want is no one to have their EpiPen due to price.” When asked why the price of EpiPen increased so much over the years, Bresch, who is the daughter of Senator Joe Manchin of Virginia, blamed “the system” which needs to be “fixed.” She said that with the savings card, “We went around the system. The savings card is equivalent to cash.”

In the course of Canadian coverage, it was assumed that Americans would be travelling north to grab cheaper EpiPens. And this is far from new.

*****

In 2013, I wrote about Americans purchasing pharmaceuticals from Canadian stores in Canadian Review of American Studies. The paper was called The Maple Peril and it explored the practice of cross-border drug reimportation, and considered the Bush and Clinton administration’s policies regarding the necessary balance between drug access, affordability, and safety.

front_cover

In the 1990s, lower drug prices in Canada forged a strong relationship between American consumers and the Canadian industry, leading to the expansion of illegal cross-border reimportation. This occurred in person or through Internet pharmacies. In Canada, the Patented Medicines Price Review Board (PMPRB) imposes federal price regulations, but a number of other reasons also drive down Canadian drug prices. For instance, lower prices on Canadian brand-name drugs are likely the normal result of market economics; that is, prices are matched to different supply and demand dynamics in the Canadian and American markets.

In 2001, as President Bush took office, thanks to Canadian regulations— as well as a weak Canadian dollar—Americans were saving 50 per cent to 70 per cent filling their prescriptions in Canada. In 2004, Canada’s review board reported that Americans paid an average 67 per cent more than Canadians for patented drugs; in 2003, while a three-month prescription for Merck’s cholesterol reducer Zocor cost $172 in Canada, American patients paid $328 for the same pills. The antiretroviral drug ritonavir (Norvir) cost as little as a $700 per year in Canada as opposed to $7,800 per year in the United States.

From the consumer’s standpoint, it was thus eminently rational – or, smart – to seek alternatives to American drugs. And it should come as no shock that drug prices became a major political and economic question mark within the Bush administration.

***** BEGIN PRICES BACKGROUND *****

The troubling matter of drug costs was first contested in the 1950s. Historian David Herzberg argues that ‘‘increasing competition and ever more intense advertising transformed the character of the once staid prescription drug business’’. The new, transformed pharmaceutical industry was challenged in the political arena when, in December 1959, Senator Estes Kefauver (D-TN) took up the general issue of administered prices. Through the Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust and Monopoly he investigated a host of industries, including ‘‘bread, milk, auto, steel, and electrical manufacturing’’ industries. He also focused on the American pharmaceutical industry’s monopoly and revealed a ‘‘series of price-fixing and collusion scandals’’.

During the ten-month hearings, 150 witnesses testified about cortical steroids, tranquilizers, antibiotics, and oral antidiabetics. Kefauver, who ‘‘favored an economy in which competition among small producers set prices,’’ asserted that the drug industry practised ‘‘price leadership’’ and suffered little foreign or domestic competition. His two principal experts, Dr. John Blair and Paul Rand Dixon, were media savvy and compared a drug’s production costs to its wholesale and retail prices; thereafter they brusquely questioned representatives of the pharmaceutical industry and neatly underlined the fact that consumers in the United States were paying a hefty sum for their medications. In one extraordinary example, the markup was 7000 per cent.

Kefauver’s subcommittee hearings, aided by the Thalidomide scare in 1962, eventually led to the passage of the 1962 Kefauver-Harris Act. Compulsory licensing and greater patent regulation, significant
pricing reforms, were excluded from the final product. Still, Kefauver’s legislation had a lasting impact. It increased the power of the FDA—the ultimate authority on whether a drug goes to market—and mandated a drug be both safe and effective; the new law also established standardized manufacturing procedures.
According to physician Jerry Avorn, the new law represented a ‘‘watershed moment in the nation’s approach to medications.’’ The legislation ‘‘completely changed the way doctors and patients thought about drugs’’. Just as important, Kefauver (and his pricing hearings) was the forerunner for a cascading set of consumer oriented hearings which focused on the growing power of the pharmaceutical industry’s advertising as well as the addictive nature of stimulants and sedatives.

***** END OF PRICES BACKGROUND *****

While President Bush adopted an amorphous position on reimportation, his appointments at the HHS and FDA did not.

In 2002, Tommy Thompson, who had already scuttled the legalization of reimportation, combined US national security imperatives and a policy opposing counterfeit drugs. In his estimation, drugs reimported to the United States from Canada constituted a clear and present danger to American consumers and, building his case, drew parallels with the new War on Terror launched after 11 September 2001. Thompson warned that ‘‘opening our borders to reimported drugs potentially could increase the flow of counterfeit drugs, cheap foreign copies of FDA-approved drugs [what the rest of us call generics], expired and contaminated drugs, and drugs stored under inappropriate and unsafe conditions.’’ Thompson’s argument concluded with a reference to the recent terrorist threats in Washington DC and around the country: ‘‘In light of the anthrax attacks of last fall, that’s a risk we simply cannot take’’.

In 2002, FDA officials underscored the necessity for vigilance against the dangers of drug importation. After chronicling the FDA’s recent legal struggles with counterfeit criminal enterprises in Alabama, Los Angeles, and Texas, one FDA leader recounted the seriousness of drug importation’s risks to public health. ‘‘Throwing open the door to drugs purchased by individuals directly from Canadian sellers,’’ Hubbard said of potential legalized importation, ‘‘will encourage unscrupulous individuals to devise schemes using Canada as a transshipment point for dangerous products from all around the globe’’.

Another tactic was to direct advertisements at consumers. One particular ad, sponsored by the drug industry, depicted two identical looking pills over the caption Quick. Pick the Capsule that Hasn’t Been Tampered With. The advertisement cited the support not just of the FDA and HHS, but the US Customs Service and Border Patrol and the DEA, arms of government usually concerned with protecting
Americans from very different kinds of drugs. The ad warned, furthermore, that allowing Americans to fill prescriptions in Canada ‘‘could open America’s medicine cabinets to an influx of dangerous drugs,’’ and it closed with an appeal to ‘‘Keep Black Market Drugs Out of America’’.

Ominous government advertisements also influenced Americans not to purchase drugs from Canada. A poster sponsored by the FDA and CBP also cast doubts on the safety and quality of foreign drugs. In an ad titled ‘‘Buying Medicine from Outside the U.S. Is Risky Business,’’ a vicious green snake, with fangs bared and piercing golden eyes, is shown squeezing a bottle of pills. To the right of the viper, the ad asked Americans: ‘‘Think it’s safe buying medicine from outside the United States? Think again.’’

 

Clipboard01

 

*****

Essentially, the recent story of the EpiPen is far from new. Thanks for reading!

Here’s Bernie on prices after the Martin Shkreli story…

 

 

Sports and Sports Medicine in CBMH/BCHM

Do you have an Olympic hangover? Missing the thrills and excitement? You’re not alone. People are clearly pining for more of Bolt and Biles, Phelps and the Fijians. But fear not. You can get your fix in CBMH/BCHM.

Back in 2011, the journal held a special issue on sports and medicine. The editors, Eileen O’Connor and Patricia Vertinksy, argued that “elite sport” and “sports medicine are increasingly at the forefront of public consciousness, especially when the Olympic Games come to town…”

But they’re aim was to push beyond the Olympics. It would be an error, they suggested, to “confine the historical study of sport medicine to the world of high level athletics,” considering the linkages “between exercise, sport and medicine for all age groups and in different regions of the world goes back millennia.”

Nevertheless, the Olympics get some attention! Thankfully. In James Rupert’s Genitals to Genes: The History and Biology of Gender Verification in the Olympics and Parissa Safai’s A Healthy Anniversary? Exploring Narratives of Health in Media Coverage of the 1968 and 2008 Olympic Games, readers are exposed to scientific and mass media analyses of the games. Both are excellent and topical articles!

*****

The former is very interesting, especially since the 800 metre women’s final was the most controversial race of the Olympics. Some in the race openly questioned whether Caster Semenya of South Africa should have been allowed to compete due to a condition called hyperandrogenism, where an athlete’s testosterone level is elevated. It’s also been suggested that Francine Niyonsaba and Margaret Wambui might also have a similar condition. According to the National Post, Poland’s Joanna Jozwik, who was fifth in Saturday’s final, and Great Britain’s Lynsey Sharp, who was sixth, both openly questioned the fairness of female athletes competing with high levels of testosterone.

rio-olympics-postmedia-melissa-bishop-of-team-canada-finis

Canadian Melissa Bishop placed 4th

*****

If you’re interested in sports in specific geographical regions, then you can also get your fix. Bouchier and Cruikshank, in Abandoning Nature: Swimming Pools and Clean, Healthy Recreation in Hamilton, Ontario, c. 1930s-1950s, address Canada. Gertrud Pfister tackles “Sports” Medicine in Germany and Its Struggle for Professional Status, whereas the prolific public historian Vanessa Heggie showcases Sport (and Exercise) Medicine in Britain: Healthy Citizens and Abnormal Athletes. It’s a remarkable set of essays.

And below was a remarkable race!

For more on what I’m doing with the CBMH/BCMH, please see the announcement here.

 

‘Manly Yoga’ and Bro-Culture

Bromance. Brog-Hug. Brocation. Now ‘Broga.’

Yes, this is for real.

According to Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s Adina Bresge, “a growing global fitness trend has men ditching dumbbells for yoga mats in so-called Broga classes, a macho twist on the thousands-year-old practice that promises the same punishing workout — with a little added bliss.”

In the UK and beyond, broga is described as ‘macho’ yoga classes which prioritize ‘rugged’ strength and physicality over spirituality.

Until recently, some traditions of yoga were exclusively practiced by men, but it has been largely shunned by male fitness buffs in the modern era. No longer! Yoga instructors are now catering to wannabe-buff men with classes that spotlight strength over stretching, and offering everything from craft beer after class to man-only retreats away from the fairer sex.

No doubt, this will be an Olympic sport in the future. Or, if nothing else, it will elevate to the same level of the Crossfit Games.

broga

A lumbersexual Broga enthusiast

HERE’S AN EXCERPT FROM THE CBC.

“Yoga is more than just women contorting themselves into vegan pretzels,” says Michael DeCorte, the Toronto “man-treprenuer” behind Jock Yoga, an athletic mashup that combines the mindfulness of sun salutations with the muscle burn of pumping iron.

“Originally, it was just a gimmick,” says DeCorte. “When I first saw it on a poster, it was almost like an oxymoron … You see yoga and think, ‘spiritual,’ and at jock you think, ‘laid-back, swearing, burping.”‘

DeCorte says men can account for anywhere between 50 to 85 per cent of his classes at the Equinox fitness club in Toronto, a striking level of testosterone in an industry whose audience is 70 per cent women, according to a 2016 Ipsos Public Affairs study.

Classes like Jock Yoga have cropped up all over the country, such as Jo-Ga in Halifax, Yoguy in Vancouver and the all-nude male Mudraforce studio in Montreal.

Have you attended?

***

WHAT’S A ‘BRO’ ANYWAY?

This video provides a hint.

*****

Other magazines – and even some scholars – have addressed this term in more detail.

For Slate, Bro’s ascendance into the pop cultural pantheon was mostly due to lots of white kids trying to seem cool by emulating black slang.

Here’s how.

As Matthew J.X. Malady (great name) put it, though usage of bro as an abbreviation of  ‘brother’ can be traced back to at least 1660, conversational uses more similar to what we hear today begin cropping up in the mid- to late 18th century, according to lexicographer and Indiana University English professor Michael Adams.

(In particular, he points to the text of a 1762 burlesque play titled Homer Travestie, which includes the word bro several times. “That suggests maybe it’s low or underworld speech—a type of slang of the period,” Adams says. “Brother would often be shortened to bro in this period, in the same way that many names were radically shortened, so that William would be shortened to Wm. You just skip all the letters you didn’t really need to identify the person. So in casual correspondence, that was the way people referred to each other, and it may have migrated into speech.” )

Then, this is where African-American culture comes into the picture.

Again, according to Malady’s research and writing, the use of bro as a simple abbreviation appears to have remained fairly consistent during subsequent centuries. But its slang usage really exploded during the past 100 years or so as it gained popularity in the black community – as a replacement for brother in conversation.

(Use of the term brother in the black church, Adams says, can be definitively dated back to at least the early 20th century, though “that’s partly just the emergence of African-American culture into print, so it’s quite likely that brother associated with the church has a longer history. It just ends up not being recorded anywhere.”)

While the heavy use of brother by those participating in social movements during the 1960s helped propel bro into the realm of casual conversation among activists, its more broad ascendance into the pop cultural pantheon after that was mostly due to lots of white kids trying to seem cool by emulating black slang. As the 20thcentury advanced, first brother and then bro became progressively more common in black speech says Geoffrey Nunberg, a linguistics expert who teaches at Berkeley’s School of Information. “Then,” he adds, “like everything else in black English, it’s appropriated and reinterpreted both deliberately and unwittingly by other speakers.”

Boom.

*****

As I thought about yoga, health, and masculinity and language, I couldn’t help but think about the metrosexuality vs. lumbersexuality. I have, of course, written about lumbersexuality in the past and present.

And one of the conclusions was that the broader lumbersexual phenomenon was straight culture’s latest attempt to theatricalize masculinity – decades after gays got there first.

Now ‘Broga.’ Much to ponder…

Drug History in CBMH-BCHM

The Drug Policy Alliance, an organization dedicated to the promotion of drug policies based on science, compassion, health, and human rights, recently published an article entitled the “The Real History of Drugs.”

The author, Tony Newman, asks “why are some drugs legal and some prohibited? Why do we arrest approximately 600,000 Americans each year for marijuana possession, but sell tobacco and alcohol on most corners? Why do we lock up people who use meth for years, and dole out the similar drug Ritalin to our children?”

He then answers these questions with a single statement: a mixture of racism, stigma, and the individuals perceived to be using the illegal drugs.

At the same time, the article points toward short, slick videos that address the “real” history of substances, including cocaine, cannabis, and

MDMA

as well as LSD

*****

The video are well-produced and easily digestible.

Here’s the thing, though. Any “real” history of drugs will require a close reading of Canadian Bulletin of Medical History/Bulletin canadien d’histoire de la médecine.

In the realm of pharmaceuticals, you have Jackie Duffin’s In View of the Body of Job Broom: A Glimpse of the Medical Knowledge and Practice of John Rolph, Stephen Francom’s Pharmacy Records at the Archives of Ontario: Their Form, Content, and Value for Research, Laura Hirshbein’s Masculinity, Work, and the Fountain of Youth: Irving Fisher and the Life Extension Institute, 1914-31, and Peters’s and Snelders’s From King Kong Pills to Mother’s Little Helpers—Career Cycles of Two Families of Psychotropic Drugs: The Barbiturates and Benzodiazepines.

(In fact, the entire volume in which Peters and Snelders published their work contains wonderful, wide-ranging drugs-related articles.)

Then, in the realm of intoxicants and addiction, there’s Krasnick’s Because there is Pain: Alcoholism, Temperance and the Victorian Physician, Dan Malleck’s “Its Baneful Influences Are Too Well Known”: Debates over Drug Use in Canada, 1867-1908, Catherine Carstairs’s Deporting “Ah Sin” to Save the White Race: Moral Panic, Racialization, and the Extension of Canadian Drug Laws in the 1920s, and Dan Malleck’s (yes, Malleck again) “A State Bordering on Insanity”?:Identifying Drug Addiction in Nineteenth-Century Canadian Asylums.

Look, this is not a comprehensive list of all the articles that tackle drugs in CBHM-BCHM. Instead, this is just to provide a flavour…

So, when you’re looking for the “real” history of drugs, go further, dig deeper, and read happily. When you’re looking for answers to questions like those posed by Tony Newman, hit up the CBHM-BCHM.

Enjoy.

*****

banner_literatum6

For more on what I’m doing with the CBMH/BCMH, please see the announcement here and be sure to visit https://cshm-schm.ca/

*****

The Weight of History/The History of Weight in CBMH/BCHM

Or, History has Heft: On Public History and Debates about Weight Loss

banner_literatum6

*****

Trying to lose weight isn’t a new phenomenon. Consumers have long searched for a safe and effective approach to lose weight. At the same time, a strong debate persists about the genetic component of obesity, new scholarly sub-fields (see Fat Studies) are emerging questioning the stigmatization of overweight individuals, and our body images are being shaped by these forces. Historians have a crucial role to play in the way in which individuals, communities, and health authorities conceptualize bodies and think about weight.

*****

In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, written by Frank L. Baum, all of the characters are searching for something. Dorothy is looking for a way home. The Scarecrow wants a brain, whereas the Tin Man wants a heart and the Lion desires courage.The only way to attain their goals is to visit the Wizard of Oz in the Emerald City. Only with his magic will their wishes be granted. As it turns out, the wizard is a total fraud. He’s just an ordinary man trying to protect his position and his empire. He’s a charlatan looking out for himself.

It is the same with TV’s Dr. Oz. As Americans (and Canadians) seek out their own desires,  be it weight loss or low blood pressure, it’s best to be wary of false wizards.

dr._oz

In 2014, Dr. Oz was called before a Senate committee on consumer protection and given a public lashing for his promotion of fraudulent weight-loss products. He admitted he was a bit of a cheerleader, using flowery language, although he suggested that it was important to advertise multiple views on the show. He also admitted that some of the products he’s suggested his viewers use don’t necessarily have “the scientific muster to present as fact.” For many, Oz came across as a quack and a huckster.

svetol-green-coffee-extract-benefits

Promoted by Dr. Oz

John Oliver, of Last Week Tonight, came down hard on Oz. He taunted and belittled the TV doctor. He used all the bells and whistles he could, including a tap-dancing Steve Buscemi, to continue the public lashing. Likewise, New York Times columnist Frank Bruni described Oz as “a carnival barker” and “a one-man morality play about the temptations of mammon and the seduction of applause….” Then, a group of high-profile doctors called for the removal of Oz in a public letter. They suggested he was pushing “miracle” weight-loss supplements with no scientific proof that they work. He displayed an “egregious lack of integrity,” said the letter, and Oz had shown “disdain for science and for evidence-based medicine.”

In 2015, I decided that I had something to offer about this matter. I felt that, having written about the history of the pharmaceutical industry and diet pills, I could contribute to the understanding of Oz. His influence on people. The role of spurious products in the marketplace. More specifically, I thought I could move beyond the walls of the so-called Ivory Tower and link my academic research with the public and maybe even policy-makers, as Kathleen O’Grady and Noralou Roos have advocated for.

As they put it, “An average paper in a peer-reviewed academic journal is read by no more than 10 people, according to Singapore-based academic Asit Biswas and Oxford researcher Julian Kirchherr, in their controversial commentary “Prof, No One Is Reading You,” which went viral last year….as many as 1.5 million peer-reviewed articles are published annually, with as many as 82 percent never cited once, not even by other academics. In other words, most academic writing rarely influences thinking beyond the privileged circles in which it is constructed – and the vast majority of it is far from influencing public policy and debate on critical issues.”

So, why not try a short piece aimed at the public? Oz was topical, after all.

It was not the first op-ed/web-based article that I had written for public consumption, nor will it be the last. However, the result was stunning. I criticized Oz rather severely (using some of the same language above) and certain readers pushed back hard. Because Oz was a supporter of organic and natural foods, and because he often positioned himself as anti-GMO, I was, by default a supporter of big business, of Monsanto, and a product of the right-wing establishment. It was startling that my piece on Oz would generate such animosity.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised.

*****

This is where the Canadian Bulletin for Medical History/Bulletin canadien d’histoire de la médecine comes into the story of The Weight of History/The History of Weight. Because any historian wanting to engage with weight loss, dieting, and public health in Canada (as well as beyond) must – absolutely must – engage with CBMH/BCHM.

Obesity is not the exclusive focus of all CBMH/BCHM articles addressing health, food, and dieting, although such works as 1987’s “Juan Luis Vives: A humanistic medical educator,” 1993’s “Medieval Women’s Guides to Food During Pregnancy: Origins, Texts, and Traditions,” and 1995’s “Promoting Good Health in the Age of Reform: The Medical Publications of Henry H. Porter of Philadelphia, 1829-32,” showcase the evolving knowledge of nutrition and proper eating in general sense.

More specifically, Lori Loeb explores Upper Canadian quacks and spurious diet drugs in “George Fulford and Victorian Patent Medicine Men: Quack Mercenaries or Smilesian Entrepreneurs?”  Fulford, a Canadian senator and philanthropist, made his fortune from a product called Dr. Williams’ Pink Pills and he serves as a window into the patent medicine industry, which included various obesity “cures.” For Loeb, “Popular obesity cures…were mostly citric acid in water. The dangers of a minority of medicines, especially soothing syrups, which contained laudanum and chlorodynes should not be minimized, but many medicines were not only benign, but even appropriate for common ailments. Indigestion remedies were largely bicarbonate of soda. Rhubarb pills were good laxatives.” (130) The article is useful for a variety of reasons, but one of the more crucial has to be the discussion of professionalization, evolving safety standards, and developing medical knowledge surrounding the patent medicine industry. Essentially, Loeb is placing Fulford – an influential operator in the medical marketplace – under a microscope.

Then, there’s the journal’s approach to alternative medicine. Through such works as Ziadat’s “Western Medicine in Palestine, 1860-1940: The Edinburgh Medical Missionary Society and Its Hospital,” Heap’s “Physiotherapy’s Quest for Professional Status in Ontario, 1950-80,” Jasen’s “Maternalism and the Homeopathic Mission in Late-Victorian Montreal,” and Furth’s Paterson lecture on “Becoming Alternative? Modern Transformations of Chinese Medicine in China and in the United States,” readers have been exposed to conflicts within professional and scientific medicine over alternative medical knowledges, as well as upstart organizations.

What becomes clear in these articles, in addition to Barbara Clow’s excellent work on “Mahlon William Locke: ‘Toe-Twister’“, is that unusual therapies and counter-knowledges in medicine generate tremendous heat. The topic may be “toe-twisting” for arthritis or anti-vaccination narratives or diet pills or organic food/anti-GMO foods – these issues are all of the hot-button variety. And the CBMH/BCHM clearly underlines this. Hence, I should not have been surprised by the response to my Oz article.

Skip ahead.

In 2011, Roberta J. Park wrote about weight loss and public health with “Historical Reflections on Diet, Exercise, and Obesity: The Recurring Need to“Put Words into Action.” She cited how the American Centers for Disease Control estimated that more than one third of all adults and nearly one fifth of children were obese. And she argued, as the title of her paper suggested, more had to be done! It was time to put “words into action.”

Thereafter, in an incredibly ambitious article, Park tackled the historiography and history of diet, exercise, and obesity in (a) the Classical World; (b) the 1700s and 1800; and (c) the 1900s. She concluded with a clarion call – that it was time “sports medical personnel, including physical educators, should embrace lessons from…past successes in promoting exercise and sport among children and adolescents, and rekindle practices once popular and effective but now abandoned.” (397)

Of all CBMH/BCHM articles on weight loss, Park’s is the work most grounded in public policy – and the one most strident in its call for change. For historians and other academics to push for change!

The debate over diet drugs and body image continue. We still gobble up quick-fixes peddled by celebrities and we still search for drugs that will make losing weight painless. As Americans and Canadians continue to struggle with obesity, the history of diet pill regulation may continue to display familiar patterns. At the same time, the CBMH/BCHM can act as a tool in fostering new pathways in the months and years ahead.

The History of Medical Books in CBMH-BCHM

Bookworms & Medical History

Historians know all about books. Publishers. Proposals. Fonts. And proper theoretical frameworks. You name it. Historians have got it cased. Sure, to avoid becoming archaic – extinct – dinosaurs, historians are shifting with the times and engaging in a wider ‘digital turn’. But books still matter.

(Yes, I have a flair for the obvious.)

In Volume 12.2 of Canadian Bulletin of Medical History/Bulletin canadien d’histoire de la médecine , the University of Toronto’s Jennifer Connor offers up a series of articles on  A NEW HISTORY OF THE MEDICAL BOOK. She situates her edited volume in the larger ‘history of the book’ movement of the 1990s. It was a movement, she writes, that witnessed “the establishment of centres for book study at national libraries and universities,” “bibliographies and plans for national histories of the book,” and “new societies, conferences, journals, book series,” as well as “graduate-level courses and degree programs…” (204)

As she prepares CBMH-BCHM readers for the issue, Connor offers a thematic taxonomy of the fourteen essays. It’s a breakdown that includes: (1) the physical form of medical publications; (2) the range of genres for medical writing; (3) the collecting of print material in private and institutional libraries; (4) the links between medical publications and their social or intellectual milieu; (5) and the nature of the publishing enterprise itself.

First she meditates on the history of the book in medicine. She then turns to what the new history of the medical book may look like in the years ahead. Thereafter, she concludes with some general thoughts that still possess force:

“Publishers’ promotion aside, the transformative power of electronic media on the book cannot be denied. Certainly the economic advantages to publishers, researchers, health-care practitioners, and patients alike in having information widely available, continually updated, and easily accessed hold tremendous implications for the health sciences in future.” (211)

Indeed.

*****

One of the stand-out articles (for me) has to be Heather Burton’s ‘ “Still in Process”: Collaborative Authorship in a Twentieth- Century Biomedical Textbook,’ an account of Molecular Biology of the Cell. More particularly, it’s an account of the “unique and close collaboration between six outstanding scientists” who wrote one of the best-selling textbooks of all time. Even more particularly, it’s about Burton chronicling the writing of the book with one of her own. Essentially, Burton’s awesome article is about a book about a book. Seriously trippy.

Molecular Biology of the Cell, according to Burton was conceived by James Watson as far back as the late 1960s and early 1970s. He saw “that molecular biology was at the forefront of science and that the curriculum was on the verge of changing.” However, the field had no textbook to guide and define it. And he sought to move beyond another boring, traditional text. “His idea was for a bold, fresh approach, yet at the same time one that was comprehensive and cohesive.” (374)

My favourite moment in the article is the authors’ back-and-forth about the writing of their now seminal textbook. It wasn’t always an enjoyable, seamless process. It wasn’t always easy – as any historian or author knows all too well. Yet, the collaborators still managed to have some fun, including posing for a photograph in which they recreated the Beatles’ Abbey Road cover. See page 377 for the image that mirrors the one below.

abbey road

And so the article goes…

*****

Yet, Connor’s edited issue was not the only place in which CBMH-BCHM drilled deeper into the history of the book.

In 1993, Ian Carr explored the life of William Boyd,  one of the best known figures in the history of Canadian pathology. A professor of pathology in three Canadian universities, Boyd “is remembered chiefly because of the number and success of his textbooks.” (77) The article is called “William Boyd-The Commonplace and the Books.”

In what could have been a straightforward (and Whiggish) history of Boyd, Carr instead gets very interesting. In an effort to understand his historical actor more closely, Carr places a spotlight on Boyd’s ‘commonplace’ book.

According to Carr: “Commonplace books, in which people recorded what they had read, were written in increasing numbers in the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries; they were used during the Renaissance as places of reference, in formal arguments) but the keeping of a commonplace book gradually became the hallmark of a writer or literary individual. It was, before the Xerox or card index, an artificial memory. Robert Burns, Thomas Hardy, and W. H. Auden, among others, have left interesting commonplace books. William Boyd is therefore in good company. To my knowledge, no other major medical writer of this century has left such a book.” (78)

While some of the material in Boyd’s book may seem frivolous, Carr believed that (and so do I) “the choice of quotations gives a picture of the inside of William Boyd’s mind…” (79)

Kipling and Shakespeare, Milton and Wordsworth – for Carr, the inclusion of these greats offers historians of medicine a more comprehensive view of one Canada’s luminaries in pathology.

*****

And there’s more…

In David Shephard’s 2000 article on “The Casebook, the Daybook, and the Diary as Sources in Medical Historiography,” readers are exposed to the writings of John Mackieson, Jonathan Woolverton, and James Langstaff – three Canadian physicians.

While diaries and journals have long been used in order to describe personal experiences, explains Shephard, doctors also relate their medical experiences through casebooks and daybooks. And when placed alongside “account books” and “clinical-notes,” the “casebooks” and “daybook” constitute “a common literary genre among physicians in the nineteenth century.” (245) They were, as Shephard argues, “used to report the details of interesting clinical cases, to provide records for future reference, to serve as aides-memoires in the preparation of journal articles, books and lectures, and sometimes to fulfill requirements in a student’s training.” (246)

And so Shephard delves into Mackieson’s, Woolverton’s, and Langstaff’s casebooks/daybooks, thereby moving CBMH-BCHM readers beyond the standard textbook (Molecular Biology of the Cell) and the commonplace book (re Boyd)…

In Shephard’s estimation, these types of historical sources provide a snapshot of medical training and, more importantly, lend insight into rural vs. urban medical practice.

*****

Accept it. Historians of medicine truly are bookworms. Thanks for reading!

banner_literatum6

This short article is part of broader series of posts. And I’m incredibly excited to be working with CBMH/BCHM and University of Toronto Press over the summer months. It will be my pleasure to help out with journal’s migration to the UofT’s publishing platform. As part of this transition, we are moving all of the back issues onto UofT’s server, and in some cases enhancing them, with abstracts and keywords. The journal is about to publish its 66th issue, so there are lots to consider!

As the journey commences this summer, I’ll be posting and tweeting about the process – all of the amazing stops and bumps in the road, as well excellent articles and contemporary health and medicine issues dating back to the mid-1980s. I’d guess holidays would come first, but I encourage you to share and participate in the voyage as much as you can!

@DrLucasRichert

 

Vaccine History in CBMH/BCHM

Vaccine & Immunization History in CBMH/BCHM

banner_literatum6

The roadway to effective, accepted vaccines in history is neither smooth nor straight. Vaccines naturally induce potent social, political, and economic responses. They raise questions about scientific authority and the production of medical knowledge. Even more, vaccines have challenged the physician’s influence over patient-consumer choice in the medical marketplace, as anyone who watched Jenny McCarthy shape the discussion over autism and anti-vaccination can attest.

jenny_mccarthy

 

In 2016, commentators and historians are addressing this subject with verve. Many texts – hastily rushed to print after widespread media coverage of Jenny McCarthy’s campaign against vaccines – are aimed at a general audience, whereas others target more specialized academic and historical audiences. Two fine entries in the latter group include Elena Conis’s Vaccine Nation: America’s Changing Relationship with Immunization (Chicago UP, 2014) and Stephen Mawdsley’s very recent Selling Science: Polio and the Promise of Gamma Globulin (Rutgers UP, 2016), both of which concentrate largely on the second half of the twentieth century.

*Conis was the plenary speaker at the recent meeting in Calgary*

* Mawdsley, of course, is CSHM-SCHM ‘s website manager and editor *

And with Karen L. Walloch’s important new book, The Antivaccine Heresy: Jacobson v. Massachusetts and the Troubled History of Compulsory Vaccination in the United States (Rochester UP, 2015), we are exposed to much earlier wrangling over vaccination – specifically, compulsory vaccination – in the United States. Set against the vivid, shifting backdrop of Progressive-era ferment and, more particularly, a modern paradigm of public health predicated on the rise of bacteriology, Walloch examines the landmark Jacobson v. Massachusetts decision of 1905, which upheld a state statute mandating vaccination.

For the authors listed above, resistance to immunization or other medical decisions is not borne out of singular ignorance, nor is it always a function of big government, anti-medical establishment paranoia.

(To be sure, there are very real consequences of ignoring the best scientific evidence on inoculating agent – and there are dangers in not redressing the consequences of ignoring the best scientific evidence and tackling counter-narratives, as in the case of Nicoli Nattrass’ The AIDS Conspiracy: Science Fights Back. I have noted this elsewhere).

However, by treating antivaccinationist views coolly, and in seeking to appreciate why well-educated and reasonable people objected to medical innovation, the authors are suggesting that we may develop more sophisticated responses to vaccine counter-narratives and counter-knowledges in the present.

*****

Vaccine history is old hat for CBMH/BCHM readers, considering such scholars as Katherine Arnup, Barbara Tunis, Maureen Lux, and W.B. Spaulding have all contributed to the historical discussion of inoculation and vaccines.

Indeed, the very first article of the very first issue focussed on Dr James Latham, a “pioneer inoculator.” According to Barbara Tunis, “little has been known of his life or subsequent career” and the “intention of this short biography” was to “examine the broader content of his career as an inoculator and his years in North America.” (1) In unpacking his life and medical practice, Tunis finds that Latham, who lived from 1734-1799, was “materialistic” in his approach to the craft and “following a trend already established in England and America…” (11) It’s an intriguing article!

Later, William Spaulding’s “The Ontario Vaccine Farm, 1885-1916” builds on the work of Tunis and charts Canada’s response to smallpox.  “Established in 1885 by Dr. Alexander Stewart, a local physician, the Ontario Vaccine Farm was the first institution to produce smallpox vaccine in Ontario,” writes Spaulding. (54) The Farm originally consisted of a converted barn where Stewart employed government-approved methods for obtaining and processing vaccine from inoculated calves – and the article is made even more interesting through its inclusion of illustrations.

In 1992, Katherine Arnup once more placed a spotlight on Ontario vaccination, with “Victims of Vaccination?: Opposition to Compulsory Immunization in Ontario, 1900-90.” And, just as Elena Conis and Karen Walloch have recently underlined the tense back-and-forth, push-and-pull among supporters and detractors of vaccination, Arnup does the same. On the one hand, she focuses on the social and political dimensions of a particular struggle over compulsory vaccination against smallpox in the city of Toronto during the first two decades of the 20th century. One the other hand, Arnup turned to contemporary debates, “to the current controversy over the use of the pertussis vaccine, examining the work of the Committee Against Compulsory Vaccination, the group battling against immunization legislation…” (159-160)

And her conclusion certainly presages many of the findings and sentiments found within recent work that give more credence to anti-vaxxers, vaccine hesitance, and vaccine resistors:

“One of the lessons that history can teach us is that in dismissing the opponents of immunization as ‘mere nonentities’ we underestimate the appeal that their message has. Although the vast majority of parents today opt for immunization for their children, increasing numbers of people are expressing concerns about its safety. While there are undoubtedly fanatics among the opponents of immunization, there are also many thousands of concerned parents, wondering what is best for their children.” (171)

In its balance and tenor, it’s strikingly similar to what’s emerging now!

Finally, with Lux’s “Perfect Subjects: Race, Tuberculosis,and the Qu’Appelle BCG Vaccine Trial,” the historiography shifts further forward chronologically and begins to include Indigenous peoples of Canada. The article also recasts Canadian vaccine history somewhat, as it uses themes of experimentation and colonialism to help tell a story about medial knowledge creation and Tuberculosis.

It’s a harrowing piece of scholarship (think Ian Mosby and Susan Reverby) that has the ability to make the reader uncomfortable, even angry. As Lux puts it, “The BCG trial at the Qu’Appelle reserves must be viewed in the historical context of Native-White relations. Native people were viewed as primitives and strangers in their own land and in need of fundamental change.” (291)

*****

Why do we question vaccines? And who are the thought leaders involved? Are they respectable, or are they hacks? And, more importantly, what can we glean from past debates about vaccines? Yes, the answers to these questions are being debated in brand new scholarship related to the United States and elsewhere, but (as noted in a previous post) it’s exciting that CBMH/BCMH readers were exposed to such historical questions from the journals’s beginnings.

(Please watch for a French version soon)

For more on what I’m doing with the CBMH/BCMH, please see the announcement here.

*****

FRENCH VERSION

Lhistoire de la vaccination et du vaccin dans le CBMH/BCHM

L’histoire nous montre que la route qui mène à des vaccins efficaces et acceptés est truffée d’embuche. Les vaccins entrainent systématiquement d’importants bouleversements sociaux, politiques et économiques. Ils soulèvent des questions relatives à l’autorité scientifique et à la production de savoir médical. Par ailleurs, les vaccins ont contesté l’influence du médecin pour tout ce qui a trait au choix des patients-consommateurs sur le marché médical, comme tous ceux qui ont pu voir Jenny McCarthy mener la discussion sur l’autisme et l’anti-vaccination peuvent en témoigner.

En 2016, les commentateurs et les historiens se penchent sur ce sujet avec brio. Beaucoup de textes (imprimés à la va-vite après une importante couverture médiatique de la campagne de Jenny McCarthy contre les vaccins) sont destinés à un public profane, tandis que d’autres ciblent des auditoires d’universitaires et d’historiens plus spécialisés. Citons comme contributions notables dans la seconde catégorie Vaccine Nation: America’s Changing Relationship with Immunization (Chicago UP, 2014) et Selling Science: Polio and the Promise of Gamma Globulin (Rutgers UP, 2016) par Elena Conis et très récemment par Stephen Mawdsley, qui se concentrent principalement sur la seconde moitié du XXe siècle.

* Conis était la conférencière en séance plénière lors de la récente réunion à Calgary *

* Mawdsley, bien sûr, est l’administrateur du site CSHM-SCHM *

Et avec l’important nouveau livre de Karen L. Walloch, The Antivaccine Heresy: Jacobson v. Massachusetts and the Troubled History of Compulsory Vaccination in the United States (Rochester UP, 2015), on apprend que les querelles concernant la vaccination aux Etats-Unis sont bien plus anciennes (en particulier, la vaccination obligatoire). Avec pour toile de fond cette ère Progressiste vive et mouvementée et, plus particulièrement, un paradigme moderne de santé publique fondée sur l’influence grandissante de la bactériologie, Walloch examine la décision historique Jacobson v. Massachusetts de 1905, qui a confirmé une loi de l’État rendant obligatoire la vaccination.

Pour les auteurs énumérés ci-dessus, la résistance à la vaccination ou à d’autres décisions médicales n’est pas le fruit d’une ignorance singulière. Elle n’est pas non plus la conséquence systématique d’une méfiance paranoïaque envers un gouvernement puissant ou envers le système médical.

Pour sûr, ignorer les meilleures preuves scientifiques concernant l’agent inoculant n’est pas sans conséquences et il est dangereux de ne pas pallier à cette ignorance des meilleures preuves scientifiques et de ne pas lutter contre les récits révisionnistes, comme dans le cas de The AIDS Conspiracy: Science Fights Back par Nicoli Nattrass. Et j’ai constaté ça ailleurs.

Cependant, en examinant les points de vue « anti-vaccinationistes » froidement, et en cherchant à comprendre pourquoi des personnes aussi bien éduquées et raisonnables ont pu s’opposer à l’innovation médicale, les auteurs suggèrent que l’on peut aujourd’hui développer des réponses plus sophistiquées aux récits révisionnistes et aux contre-vérités.

*****

Les lecteurs de CBMH / BCHM en sont bien conscients, étant donné que des chercheurs comme Katherine Arnup, Barbara Tunis, Maureen Lux et W.B. Spaulding ont tous contribué à la discussion historique de l’inoculation et les vaccins.

En effet, le tout premier article du tout premier numéro portait sur le Dr James Latham, un « pionnier de l’inoculation. » Selon Barbara Tunis, «  on connait très peu de sa vie ou de sa carrière ultérieure» et «le but de cette courte biographie » est « d’examiner le contenu plus large de sa carrière en tant « inoculateur » et ses années en Amérique du Nord. » (1) En examinant sa vie et sa pratique médicale, Tunis estime que Latham, qui a vécu de 1734 à 1799, était «matérialiste» dans son rapport à sa pratique et «suivait une tendance déjà établie en Angleterre et en Amérique … » (11 ) C’est un article fascinant !

Par la suite, « The Farm Vaccine Ontario, 1885-1916 » de William Spaulding s’appuie sur les travaux de Tunis et analyse la réponse du Canada à la variole. « Fondée en 1885 par le Dr Alexander Stewart, un médecin local, la Ferme à vaccin de l’Ontario (Ontario Vaccine Farm) a été la première institution à produire le vaccin contre la variole en Ontario», écrit Spaulding. (54) La Ferme se composait initialement d’une grange aménagée dans laquelle Stewart employait des méthodes approuvées par le gouvernement pour l’obtention et la fabrication de vaccins à partir de veaux inoculés. Les illustrations rendent l’article encore plus intéressant.

En 1992, Katherine Arnup mit une fois de plus en lumière la vaccination en Ontario, avec « Victims of Vaccination?: Opposition to Compulsory Immunization in Ontario, 1900-90. » Et, tout comme Elena Conis et Karen Walloch ont récemment souligné les tensions liées au va-et-vient parmi les partisans et les détracteurs de la vaccination, Arnup fait de même ici. D’une part, elle s’attarde sur les dimensions sociales et politiques d’une lutte particulière portant sur la vaccination obligatoire contre la variole dans la ville de Toronto au cours des deux premières décennies du 20e siècle. D’ autre part, Arnup s’intéresse aux débats contemporains : « la controverse actuelle concernant l’utilisation du vaccin contre la coqueluche, examinant les travaux du Comité contre la vaccination obligatoire (Committee Against Compulsory Vaccination), qui luttait contre la législation de vaccination …» (159-160)

Et sa conclusion précède certainement beaucoup d’idées et d’impressions que l’on peut trouver dans certains travaux récents qui donnent plus de crédibilité aux anti-vaccinationistes, l’hésitation des vaccins et des résistances de vaccins :

« L’une des leçons que l’on peut tirer de l’histoire, c’est qu’en rejetant les adversaires de la vaccination comme de « simples nullités », nous sous-estimons la portée de leur message. Bien qu’aujourd’hui la grande majorité des parents opte pour la vaccination de leurs enfants, beaucoup de personnes émettent des réserves quant à sa sécurité. C’est sûr qu’il existe des fanatiques parmi les opposants à la vaccination, mais il y a aussi des milliers de parents inquiets qui se demandent ce qui est le mieux pour leurs enfants. » (171)

Dans son équilibre et sa teneur, c’est étonnamment similaire à ce qui est en train d’émerger !

Enfin, avec « Perfect Sujets: Race, Tuberculosis and the Qu’Appelle Vaccin BCG Trial, » écrit par Lux, l’historiographie se penche sur des sujets plus contemporains et commence à inclure les peuples autochtones du Canada. D’une certaine manière, l’article refonde également l’histoire du vaccin au Canada, étant donné qu’il a recours aux thèmes de l’expérimentation et du colonialisme pour raconter une histoire de la création des connaissances médicales et de la tuberculose. C’est un article poignant (cf. Ian Mosby et Susan Reverby), qui a la faculté de mettre le lecteur mal à l’aise, voire en colère. Comme Lux le dit, « Le procès BCG dans les réserves Qu’Appelle doit être étudié dans le contexte historique des relations autochtones-Blanc. Les autochtones étaient considérés comme des êtres primitifs et des étrangers au sein de leur propre pays et comme nécessitant un changement fondamental. » (291)

****

Pourquoi nous interrogeons-nous sur les vaccins ? Et qui sont les leaders d’opinion concernés ? Sont-ils respectables ou sont-ils des imposteurs ? Et, de manière plus importante, que pouvons-nous tirer des débats d’antan sur les vaccins ? Oui, les réponses à ces questions sont débattues dans de nouvelles études portant sur les Etats-Unis et ailleurs, mais (comme indiqué dans un précédent post), c’est stimulant de penser que les lecteurs de CBMH/BCMH ont été exposés à de telles questions historiques depuis les débuts de la revue.

 

Medical History and the Arts!

Walt Whitman,  John Keats, and Franz Schubert. Literature, poetry, and classical music.

In the early stages of cataloging the Canadian Bulletin of Medical History/Bulletin canadien d’histoire de la médecine for the University of Toronto it has become abundantly clear that the journal showcased the intersection medicine, health, and the arts. (Here’s the announcement about what I’m actually doing.)

In 2014, the New York Academy of Medicine held its second annual Festival of Medical History and the Arts, which celebrated the 500th birthday of anatomist and humanist Andreas Vesalius. Vesalius’ groundbreaking De humani corporis fabrica (The Fabric of the Human Body) of 1543 remains one of the key Renaissance texts. It profoundly altered medical training, anatomical knowledge, and artistic representations of the body.

Page 174 of Andreas Vesalius’ De corporis humani fabrica libri septem, available at National Library of Medicine

 

While few figures have been so influential to the arts, learning, and medicine – and while Vesalius’ influence has persisted over the centuries in anatomical training, representations of the body and the visual arts – other important figures in the Arts deserve attention, too.

The CBMH/BCHM was addressing this as early as 1984, when S.E.D. Shortt probed Walt Whitman’s and Richard Bucke’s fiery friendship. In “The Myth of a Canadian Boswell: Dr. R.M. Bucke and Walt Whitman,” Shortt seeks to correct the view of Bucke, one of the most notable figures in Canadian mental health history. And he recasts the Bucke/Whitman relationship as one of “symbiosis rather than of master poet and sycophantic admirer.” (55) It’s a fascinating read and timely, especially since the New York Academy of Medicine just this month held a public forum on Walt Whitman, ‘Manly Health,’ and the Democratization of Medicine.

http://whitmanarchive.org/multimedia/image007.html?sort=year&order=ascending&page=1

Available at the Walt Whitman Archive

 

Thereafter, in 1986 (Vol 1) CBMH/BCHM placed a spotlight on the early medical career of John Keats and Franz Schubert’s terminal illness.

For G. Hetenyi, in the early 1980s “considerable uncertainty” still existed about Schubert’s terminal illness and the cause of his death in 1828. Thus, his article, “The terminal illness of Franz Schubert and the treatment of syphilis in Vienna in the eighteen hundred and twenties,” is part biography, part nosography. (51-52)

It ably locates Schubert within a particular medical culture (Vienna) and provides a unique window into his musical career. Along the way, Hetenyi raises some tantalizing questions: Was Schubert being poisoned? Was he suffering from Typhus?

 

Finally, “Keats as a Student at Guy’s Hospital” offers a wonderful snapshot of medical training within an elite institution, as well as the “varied profession.”  According to Donald Goellnicht, “Keats is famous first as a poet, second as a letter-writer, and hardly at all as a man of medicine.” (65-66)

John Keats – available on Biography.com

The goal, then, is to furnish a fuller portrait of Keats’s background. And the reader is exposed to the volatile nature of the medical field in the early 19th century, the gritty and grotesque world of anatomical and surgical education, and absorbing accounts of leading physicians, including Ashley Cooper who was widely regarded as one of the best medical lecturers in Europe.

*

In essence, the earliest issues of CBMH/BCHM sought to highlight the crossroads of medicine, health, and the arts, which is, of course, very fashionable now.

The University of Toronto has recently started a Health, Arts, & Humanities Program, while the University of Saskatchewan just launched a Health Studies Program. And this is simply the tip of the iceberg. Many more universities and many lecturers/physicians/educators are evaluating the relationship between Medicine and the Arts.

It’s affirming that Canadian Association for the History of Medicine/  Société canadienne d’histoire de la médecine was doing this from the journal’s inception.

By Lucas Richert @DrLucasRichert