Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

The old ice box

A popular doctor once had in his office an old icebox that had long ceased to fulfill the function for which it had been created. It was disconnected from electrical power but spacious enough to allow a person to sit in it.

The physician would tell his worried, well patients that this was an X-ray machine. The patients would sit in it for a few minutes and believe they had had a radiological examination. When they came out, the physician would show them an old X-ray he kept in his office and discuss it with them. He would then give them an intramuscular injection of vitamin C. This would hurt for one week, proof that the medicine was working. By this means, the doctor cured many of his more anxious patients.

Antique icebox. Photo by Thom Quine via Flickr. CC BY 2.0.

Spring 2021



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