Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Medical pseudoscience

Edwin D. Babbitt (1825–1905), a medical graduate of Knox College, Galesburg, IL, developed an interest in arcane subjects early in life, publishing a book on penmanship, then switching to medical pseudoscience. He wrote books on chromotherapy, magnetism, and phrenology, claiming that these techniques combined with massage and lifestyle changes could cure any disease and eliminate the need for medications. He awarded himself a degree of doctor of magnetics from his own college and offered such degrees by correspondence. In his health guide he published a map of the body, indicating which areas of the body could be manipulated through massage, magnets, and acupressure, supporting his theories by using medical terms such as plexus or bundles of nerves or vessels located in a specific part of the body.

From The health guide: aiming at a higher science of life and the life-forces, giving nature’s simple and beautiful laws of cure, the science of magnetic manipulation, bathing, electricity, food, sleep, exercise, marriage, and the treatment for one hundred diseases : thus, constituting a home doctor far superior to drugs by Edwin D. Babbitt. 1874. US National Library of Medicine via Internet Archive.

Winter 2020



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