Today's date:
Winter 2000

Disembodied Health

Barbara Huden is professor of medical history at the University of Hanover (Germany). Barbara Duden and Ivan Illich (Medical Nemesis, The De-Schooling of Society) regularly join together with a circle of 10 or so friends for continuing conversations following a line of inquiry provoked by Illich on topics ranging from "hospitality" to "proportionality" to "the management of suffering." Over the past three years this "thinkery" has met in Germany, Italy, the United States and Mexico.

On July 29, 1723, a haggard, choleric widow comes to see me, a woman well into her 70s. She complains about searing pains that run down from hip to toe and force her into a limp. When I inquired into the origins of her condition, she confesses that, until two months ago, her monthlies [sic] had come as usual. The onset of the pain coincided with the stoppage of her periodic bleeding. ...I reflected on her complaint. Since this woman has never been in the habit of taking medicine, I advised to expose her leg and privy parts to the vapors of boiling milk. Shortly afterwards, her monthlies returned, and the pain also ceased.

Bremen - The passage is taken from Case #111 in volume of eight of the Weiberkrankheiten, by Dr. Johannes Pelargius Storch; this is the volume that deals with the "Diseases and Infirmities of the Female Mother." The author was far from a quack. He had acquired his title at the University of Jena under the influence of Georg Stahl. By the time of the above entry, he was the Town and Court Physician in Eisenach, the capital of a princely estate on the main road from Frankfurt to Leipzig. He kept his diary for the instruction of younger colleagues. Altogether he assembled records on 1,650 female patients who had visited him between 1719 and 1742. With some of these patients I became more familiar because they appear in repeated clinical entries.

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