Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: Consumption

  • Sanitariums as cure for consumption

    The institutions variously called sanitariums (from sanare, “to cure”) or sanitariums (from sanitas, meaning “health”) became all the rage around 1850. They were especially popular with the upper classes, as exemplified in Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain by the young Hans Castorp, who decides to spend a few days with a friend at a Swiss…

  • The climate cure: Treating tuberculosis in the nineteenth century

    Brendan PulsiferAtlanta, Georgia Tuberculosis pervaded nineteenth-century American life like no other disease. More commonly known as consumption at the time, it was responsible for one in five deaths, making it the deadliest pathogen for people across ages, genders, and classes. Doctors often described tuberculosis as the most dangerous illness in their clinical practice because of…

  • Book review: Medicine in the Middle Ages

    Arpan K. Banerjee Solihull, United Kingdom   Cover of Medicine in the Middle Ages by Juliana Cummings. In the history of Western Europe, the Middle Ages refers to the period between the fall of the Roman Empire in the fifth century through the beginning of the Renaissance in the 1500s. These thousand years were characterized…

  • Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau and aeration of the White Plague

    Philip R. Liebson Chicago, Illinois, United States   Photo from the Adirondack Experience Museum. Circa 1895. Edward Livingston Trudeau was born in 1848, one year before Frédéric Chopin died of tuberculosis. Trudeau’s extended family eventually included Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, and Garry Trudeau of Doonesbury fame. In his time tuberculosis was killing…

  • Catching Your Death: Infectious rain in the works of Jane Austen

    Eve Elliot Dublin, Ireland   Willoughby Carries Marianne Home. Image: Carried Her Down the Hill, 1908. By C.E Brock. Wikimedia Commons. Fans of the Netflix romp Bridgerton or any of the Jane Austen film adaptations will likely be familiar with the important social etiquette of inquiring after someone’s health. Unlike the modern throwaway how are…

  • Ladies in red: Medical and metaphorical reflections on La Traviata

    Milad Matta Gregory Rutecki Lyndhurst, Ohio, United States Illustration by Jason Malmberg. “. . . phthisic beauty[’s] . . . most famous operatic embodiment was Violetta Valery . . .This physical type became not only fashionable but sexy . . . When a society does not understand—and cannot control—a disease, ground seems to open up…

  • Vampires and the Tuberculous Family

    Sylvia Pamboukian Moon Township, PA   Public health poster, New York National Child Welfare Association, ca. 1920–23. Library of Congress “The Tuberculous Family.” Listed by Library of Congress website with “No known restrictions on publication” An isolated village, a series of mysterious deaths, a mob in the graveyard at midnight—it sounds like the climax of…

  • The art of consumption – TB and John Lavery

    Emily BoyleBelfast, Northern Ireland Tuberculosis, (TB) is often regarded as a historical disease—in the 1880’s it caused a quarter of all deaths in the UK. Mortality rates from TB fell by 17% between 2005 and 2015,1 but it remains an important health concern. Worldwide it is still the second most common cause of death from an…

  • Consumption and vampires: Metaphor and myth before science

    Gregory Rutecki Cleveland, Ohio, United States   Illustrations of vampires. Provided by author.     “In New England . . . It is believed that consumption is not a physical but a spiritual disease . . . as long as the body of a dead consumptive relative has blood in its heart it is proof…

  • Where no birds sing: tuberculosis in Keats’ “La Belle Dame Sans Merci”

    Putzer HungSt. Louis, Missouri, United States O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,Alone and palely loitering?The sedge has wither’d from the lake,And no birds sing. O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms!So haggard and so woe-begone?The squirrel’s granary is full,And the harvest’s done. I see a lily on thy browWith anguish moist and fever dew,And on thy…