Strange Medicine: A Shocking History of Real Medical Practices Through the Ages

Strange Medicine: A Shocking History of Real Medical Practices Through the Ages


Strange Medicine casts a gimlet eye on the practice of medicine through the ages that highlights the most dubious ideas, bizarre treatments, and biggest blunders. From bad science and oafish behavior to stomach-turning procedures that hurt more than helped, Strange Medicine presents strange but true facts and an honor roll of doctors, scientists, and dreamers who inadvertently turned the clock of medicine backward:

• The ancient Egyptians applied electric eels to cure gout.
• Medieval dentists burned candles in patients’ mouths to kill invisible worms gnawing at their teeth.
• Renaissance physicians timed surgical procedures according to the position of the stars, and instructed epileptics to collect fresh blood from the newly beheaded.
• Dr. Walter Freeman, the world’s foremost practitioner of lobotomies, practiced his craft while traveling on family camping trips, cramming the back of the station wagon with kids—and surgical tools—then hammering ice picks into the eye sockets of his patients in between hikes in the woods.

Strange Medicine is an illuminating panorama of medical history as you’ve never seen it before.



Belofsky (The Book of Strange and Curious Legal Oddities) conjures horror and hilarity–sometimes at the same time-in this cheeky history of 2,400 years of doctors doing “more harm than good” and occasionally fumbling their way toward “Eureka!”…medicine sunk to its lowest point during its “Heroic Era.”…Benjamin Rush, the father of American psychiatry, would strap patients…and spin them “like tops for hours on end.”…Makes a shot in the rear seem like a walk in the park.

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