Author(s): Lydia Kang
Imagine a time when doctors prescribed morphine for crying infants. When liquefied gold was touted as immortality in a glass. And when strychnine--yes, that strychnine, the one used in rat poison--was dosed like Viagra.
Looking back with fascination, horror, and not a little dash of dark, knowing humor, Quackery recounts the lively, at times unbelievable history of medical misfires and malpractices. Ranging from the merely weird to the outright dangerous, here are 67 outlandish, morbidly hilarious "treatments"-- conceived by doctors and scientists, by spiritualists and snail oil salesmen--that were predicated on a range of cluelessness, trial and error, and straight-up scams. With vintage illustrations, photographs, and advertisements throughout, Quackery seamlessly combines macabre humor with science and storytelling to reveal an important and disturbing side of the ever-evolving field of medicine.
Written by Dr. Lydia Kang, a practicing physician, and Nate Pederson, a journalist and historian, it's all here -- the leeches, the arsenic drops, the water cures and radium spa hotels, the prefontal lobotomies. Do no harm? As if!
Journey back to a time when doctors tried to jolt your paralysed muscles awake with a strychnine laced enema. When a physician wrote you a prescription for the mercury base "Thunderclapper" pill to relieve your constipation. When you attempted to soothe your arthritic joints with a trip to a uranium mine.
Lydia Kang, M.D., is a practicing internal medicine physician and author of young adult fiction. Her YA novels include Control, Catalyst, and the upcoming The November Girl. She has gained a reputation as a medical consultant for fiction authors and teaches writers how to accurately maim their literary victims on her blog series, Medical Mondays. Nate Pedersen is a librarian, historian, and freelance journalist with over 400 publications in print and online, including The Guardian, The Believer, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The Art of Manliness.