Tag Archives: Medical History

Happy Birthday Carl Jung – Check out the Online Exhibit at the Library of Congress

Carl Jung, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Carl Jung, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Today is the birthday of Carl Jung, one of the pioneering founders of the field of psychiatry and psychotherapy.

You can see Jung’s famous Red Book online via the LIbrary of Congress. The online exhibit is described as follows:

Features the preeminent psychoanalyst Carl G. Jung’s famous Red Book, which records the creation of the seminal theories that Jung developed after his 1913 split with Sigmund Freud, and explores its place in Jung’s work through related items from the Library’s collections.

Remember that all exhibits and materials via the LIbrary of Congress are free! To check out the exhibit, visit the link here.

The Impact of Vaccines on Childhood Illness

Vaccines have been controversial for the last decade or so. While many will continue to debate their value, one element about vaccines cannot be argued: They have had a profound impact on childhood illness and mortality. See the infographic below that identifies the morbidity rates of various childhood diseases (pre and post vaccine). The infographic was created and posted on Visual.ly, see the details here.



Johns Hopkins University: The History of Public Health

Jonas Salk administering the Polio vaccine.

Jonas Salk administering the Polio vaccine.

Today, I highlight the Johns Hopkins University course “The History of Public Health.”  The open courseware material is presented on the webpage and iTunes U.


In the History of Public Health we will examine the historical experience of health and illness from a population perspective. This material seeks to reveal how the organization of societies facilitates or mitigates the production and transmission of disease. It also asks how do populations and groups of individuals go about securing their health? One key theme is the medical management of space in one form or another – from the public space of the environment through institutional spaces such as schools and workplaces to personal/individual body space. The progression of the lectures reflects this, working “inwards” from the environment to individuals.

The content provides an historical interpretation of how the theory and practice of public health in today’s world has come to be what it is. We will concentrate primarily on the modern world (i.e., 1750 onwards) and omit detailed examination of public health in antiquity and the middle ages, although these time periods will be alluded to frequently. A thematic rather than chronological structure will be adopted so that comparisons can be made across the centuries and between different parts of the globe.

“Aristotle’s Sex Manual” Going to Auction

courtesy of Lyon & Turnbull

courtesy of Lyon & Turnbull

A manuscript dated to the 17th century and inaccurately attributed to the Greek philosopher Aristotle is going up for auction at Lyon and Turnbull.

“Images in this “master-piece” show a woman’s torso and drawings of hairy children with extra limbs, and according to the Guardian, an image showing a woman’s torso opened up to reveal a baby in her womb. But there are no actual explicit images…” – Cathy Marsden

The book was likely written as an ‘information’ manual for the newly married, providing “medical information” on human sexuality and reproduction. The information, often grossly inaccurate, provides great insight into the minds of medical science. The “medical tidbits” state that a woman could give birth to a Black child if she was thinking of Black men during the conception or that a child conceived out of wedlock would be hairy or otherwise deformed. It also provides instruction for conceiving a child of a specified gender, by planning conception by the phases of the moon. The book even includes an instructional section for midwives (although modern midwives would be best to ignore his advice).

To learn more about the text, see the article in LiveScience, The Telegraph, or the Huffington Post.


Smithsonian Exhibit Opens – Diary of a Civil War Nurse

Today, the Smithsonian opens an exhibit entitled “Diary of a Civil War Nurse.” The online portion includes several interactive elements for those of us who can’t make it out to the National Mall.

The exhibit highlights the role of American Women who served as nurses during the American Civil War. Specifically, it highlights the records of one woman, Amanda Akin, and her first hand account of what she witnessed.

“It seemed to me this evening, as I sat at my table adding to the list of medicines—writing down name, regiment, list of clothing, etc., of the new arrivals, calmly looking at the poor maimed sufferers carried by, some without limbs, on a ‘stretcher’—that I had forgotten how to feel, . . . it seemed as if I were entirely separated from the world I had left behind.” – Amanda Akin

As did many other militaries of the time, women were not permitted to have a fighting role and, as such, fought for their respective causes in a variety of ways. Thus was born the modern nursing program, and its feminine face. It is an extraordinary story.