This strange tradition likely derived from an earlier practice of "sin-eating," whereby the sins of the deceased were transferred to a person who, for a small fee, consumed food and drink handed to him over the coffin. Mourners would pay the village sin-eater to rid their departed loved ones from all the sins they had accumulated during their lives, thus allowing the dead to enter Heaven unburdened.
For anyone who has ever uttered the words “the good old days,” this blog post is for you. Here are 10 MEDICAL PROCEDURES FROM THE PAST that will make you happy to be alive in 2019. 10. TOOTH EXTRACTION WITH DENTAL KEY, 18th century. The claw of the key was placed over the top of the rotten tooth. When turned, the tooth popped out of its socket. In many cases, however, the tooth shattered & each piece had to be plucked from the patient's bleeding gums. 9. BLOODLETTING WITH SCARIFICATOR, late 17th century. This instrument with spring-loaded blades delivered many cuts [...]
Hello, my long-lost subscribers! My deepest apologies for my radio silence these past few months: I’ve been hard at work on the second book about the history of plastic surgery; as well as other various projects. But I hope to publish a new blog post very soon. In the meantime, I’d like to draw your attention to some upcoming events I’ll be doing in the US and UK in the next couple of months. First up is the CHICAGO HUMANITIES FESTIVAL on Sunday, October 28th. I’ll be at the Ryan Center in Evanston talking about the brutal and bloody world [...]
I’m so excited to announce that the subject of MY NEXT BOOK will be on the birth of plastic surgery told through the incredible story of Harold Gillies, the pioneering and eccentric surgeon who first united art and medicine to address the horrific injures that resulted from World War I. From the moment that the “Dhak! Dhak! Dhak! Dhak!” of the first machine gun rang out over the Western Front, one thing was clear: mankind’s military technology at the start of WWI wildly outpaced its medical capabilities. Bullets whizzed through the air at incredible speeds, discharging as much as 7,200 [...]
With just one week left until the launch of my debut book, it’s my great pleasure to unveil the trailer for The Butchering Art. A great deal of love, thought and care has gone into the many weeks of its production. As someone who relishes the visual elements of the past, I wanted to see how the sights and sounds of grimy, grisly Victorian surgery would translate onto screen. So, I set out with filmmaker Alex Anstey of Light Arcade Productions to create a short film that thrusts the viewer straight into the brutal action of the era’s operating theaters, in which survival depended [...]
GIVEAWAY ALERT! Win this amazing skull carved by Zane Wylie in honor of the publication of my first book, The Butchering Art. To enter: 1) Pre-order The Butchering Art (click HERE) 2) Share this post on social media 3) Leave your name in the comment section The Butchering Art follows the surgeon Joseph Lister on his quest to transform the brutal and bloody world of Victorian medicine through antisepsis. The winner will be announced on October 17th, the day the book is released. Thanks for your continued support, and good luck with the contest! *Note: if you’ve already pre-ordered the book, simply share [...]
If you’d like a sneak peek at my forthcoming book, you can now read an excerpt in Scientific American – one of my all-time favorite magazines. Find it online HERE, as well as in the October print edition, which will hit newsstands soon. BOOK TOUR UPDATE: Due to high demand, we are now asking people to register for the West Coast Book Launch at The Huntington Library in Pasadena on October 22nd in order to guarantee a seat. The event is free and will be followed by a book signing. Please register HERE. You can find the full book tour schedule HERE. Remember to check [...]
I’m thrilled to announce events for my upcoming book tour in the US, beginning with the book launch at the MUTTER MUSEUM on October 17th. Below is more info about each venue, as well as links to where you can register for events. I’ll be updating info on this page from time to time, so please check back periodically. Meanwhile, don’t forget you can now pre-order THE BUTCHERING ART. All pre-orders count towards first week sales, and give debut authors (like me!) a chance at hitting the NYTimes Bestseller List when the book is released. The more pre-orders, the more buzz, [...]
Hours before he died, George Washington told his secretary: “Have me decently buried; and do not let my body be put into the Vault in less than three days after I am dead.” This kind of request was not uncommon. In an era when putrefaction was the only sure sign of death, many people in the past feared being buried alive. Indeed, Washington’s nephew was even more paranoid than the former president. He ordered: “my thumbs are not to be tied together—nor anything put on my face or any restraint upon my Person by Bandages, &c. My Body is [...]
In Episode 16, Dr Lindsey Fitzharris talks about phrenology, a popular pseudoscience that emerged in the early 19th century that put forth the idea that a person’s personality could be understood by examining the bumps on his or her skull. She also discovers that phrenological heads talk back! Don’t forget you can now pre-order my book THE BUTCHERING ART in the US (click here), Canada (click here), UK (click here), and Australia (click here). And please subscribe to my YouTube Channel, and like/comment on the video!