Tag Archives: Opium

The Pearl of the Orient: the persistence of Dr. Wu Lien-teh

Ku Ezriq Raif bin Ku Besry Perlis, Malaysia   Dr. Wu Lien-teh 1935. Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain. The work of Wu Lien-teh in controlling the 1910 Manchurian Plague has been celebrated as “a milestone in the systematic practice of epidemiological principles in disease control.” The cloth face mask he developed, “the principal means of personal protection”1 […]

A very Victorian drug

Anita Cooke New Brunswick, Canada   Elizabeth Siddal Plaiting her Hair by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Tate Gallery London. Date unknown. Photo © Tate. CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0. On February 14, 1862, the Daily News reported the “Death of a Lady from an Overdose of Laudanum.”1 Four nights earlier, Dante Gabriel Rossetti had discovered his wife, Lizzie, in […]

Pain management

Andrew Yim Hamden, Connecticut   Clear glass bottle containing ‘Papine’ brand liquid (opium and morphine hydrochloride). Science Museum Group Collection. CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 Once a month, Ada tells me about her pain and then I write a script for oxycodone. When Ada tires of my Spanish or I of her English, we use a phone […]

Hector Berlioz: from medical school to music conservatory

Michael Yafi Houston, Texas, United States   Portrait of Hector Berlioz. Gustave Courbet. 1850. Musée d’Orsay. Via Wikimedia Louis-Hector Berlioz (1803–1869) was born in La Côte-Saint-André, France. His father was a well-known physician in his hometown in the French Alps and wanted his son to follow in his footsteps. At the age of eighteen, Hector […]

Heinrich Heine and the mattress tomb

Nicolás Roberto Robles  Badajoz, Spain   Harry Heine was born in Bolkerstrasse, Düsseldorf, Germany. He jokingly described himself as the “first man of the century,” claiming that he had been born on New Year’s Eve 1800. Researchers have discovered, however, that December 13, 1797, is most likely the date of his birth. The oldest of […]

The illness of Tom Wedgwood: a tragic episode in a family saga

John Hayman Melbourne, Australia   Figure 1. Tom Wedgwood, from the frontispiece of Tom Wedgwood, the First Photographer, by R.B. Litchfield (1903). The inscription reads: “From a chalk drawing belonging to Miss Wedgwood, of Leith Hill Place. Artist unknown.” Print in public domain. Tom Wedgwood (1771-1805) was born into the famous pottery dynasty as the […]

More than “toil and trouble”: Macbeth and medicine

Mariel Tishma Chicago, Illinois, United States   The Witches. Hans Baldung (called Hans Baldung Grien). 1510. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The image of a woman – a witch — working over a bubbling cauldron filled with stomach-turning substances is a staple of both horror and more family friendly media. One such example is Shakespeare’s […]

Ella’s addiction: the story of a mother and morphine

Lisa Mulleneaux New York, New York, United States   Ella Quinlan O’Neill in the early 1880s. Courtesy of Yale University Library Doctors today are relearning lessons from a century ago when overprescription of opioids created an epidemic of addicts, most of whom were upper-class or middle-class women. Eugene O’Neill’s mother, Mary “Ella” Quinlan O’Neill, was […]

Poppy power

John Graham-Pole Gainesville, Florida, United States   Dr. Graham-Pole with cancer patient, Bridget. At the time of the photo, Bridget had life-threatening cancer requiring opioids, and is now a successful artist. Author photo. The poppy’s juice . . .brings the sleep to dear Mama — Sara Coleridge, Pretty Lessons in Verse for Good Children   In […]

Thomas De Quincey and Confessions of an English Opium-Eater: Opium as Medicine and Beyond

Jared Griffin Pennsauken, New Jersey, United States   If a man “whose talk is of oxen,” should become an Opium-eater, the probability is, that (if he is not too dull to dream at all)—he will dream about oxen: whereas, in the case before him, the reader will find that the Opium-eater boasteth himself to be […]