how to resuscitate a sleeping beauty

a few months back nursemyra wrote about coffins for those who were afraid of being buried alive. While reading A Cabinet of Medical Curiosities I discovered more detail for my curious readers……


“only putrefaction and the appearance of livid spots are accepted as sure signs that an individual has really expired. A presumed corpse is to remain in a warm bed and vigourous attempts should be made to resuscitate it. The individual’s nostrils are to be irritated by onion juice, garlic and horseradish or shove a sharp pointed pencil up the nose. Stimulate the skin by the liberal application of whips and nettles. Irritate the intestines by acrid enemas, agitate the limbs by violent pulling  and shock the ears by hideous shrieks and excessive noise. If these methods fail, pour boiling Spanish wax on the forehead.”


A French clergyman even advocated that a red-hot poker be thrust up the unfortunate corpse’s rear quarters as a last resort!


Antoine Louis, a physician in Paris, objected to the use of putrefaction as the sole sign of death. He used a remarkable apparatus made especially for the purpose of awakening those who were apparently dead. A pipe was inserted into the anus and another pipe was connected by a bellows to a furnace full of tobacco.

Many cities employed inspectors of dead bodies to examine and attempt to resuscitate every corpse within their jurisdiction. Establishments were staffed by a matron and several nurses whereby corpses were placed on comfortable beds with strings tied to their fingers and connected to a large bell. Philanthropic magnates contributed large sums of money to contests dedicated to solving the problem of distinguishing real from apparent death. Ideas included rubbing the body’s most sensitive areas with stiff, prickly brushes, using pincers on nipples or thrusting a needle with a flag on one end into the heart of the apparently dead individual – the flag would wave if the heart was still beating.


Published in: on December 16, 2008 at 7:36 am  Comments (29)  

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29 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Why is it these ‘Doctors’ always say it has something to do with the anus…. Everything even death can be cured by means of the anus and shoving things in it! WHY?

  2. A pipe was inserted into the anus and another pipe was connected by a bellows to a furnace full of tobacco.

    Even in death….they continue to blow smoke up your ass.

  3. I wonder why they specify Spanish wax. Curious.

  4. I can imagine some of those techniques wouldn’t be entirely unpleasurable. I wonder if anybody pretended to be dead, just for the Spanish wax sensation…

  5. Ow. Talk about adding insult to injury.

  6. I think some of those methods are considered foreplay in certain cultures.

  7. [as matron approaches apparent corpse with acrid enema, hot poker and three day old fish sandwich]

    corpse: I’m feeling much better! Think I’ll go for a walk!

  8. I say if Corset Friday doesn’t stir someone, they are obviously dead.

  9. I always liked Acrid Enema- their first album was a mindblower. But now they are dead. I think.

    Rusty Bikeindarain

  10. “using pincers on nipples”

    Now you’re talking!

  11. The French seem to be fond of shoving things in the anus.

  12. oh I don’t think aussies are averse to it either. we used to have a football player here whose nickname was “Backdoor Benny”

  13. Dear God, he didn’t use the football did he?

  14. I was in a castle this weekend…LB did good prince duty! *grin*

  15. Sledpress: oh what an evil thought… you’re way ahead of me….

    Dolce: princess, you deserve it *grin*

  16. & Spanish wax is different to ??

  17. You should have a read of a book called ‘The serpent and the rainbow’ by a guy called Wade Davis.Avoid the film of the same name tho 😛

    All is well,slowly finding my feet over here.Will email once i get a house sorted.x

  18. I guess an American football would be easier, narrows to a point.

  19. Nurse, dont forget Hoppa the black rhino… he was all about the back passage.

  20. Mr Fingers up the jacksie?

  21. The master of it. For weeks after that a few of my mates were hell to be around, you never knew when you were going to cop the black rhino. Yes I am still friends with them, why? who knows?

  22. Thank goodness being declared dead these days is much easier…Or not. These days we seem to have an inordinate number of living corpses around.

  23. Are we talking politicians?

  24. Them too, Nurse Myra, but I was thinking of Terri Schiavo in this case.

  25. if you want to know if i’m alive, please use a feather. and whisper something sweet.

  26. ok sugar……

  27. Oh I loved this post N.M.- big surprise eh?

    What I found and continue to find odd is that once you’ve touched a dead body you could never mistake a live one for a not live one.

    Or maybe that’s just me.

  28. I found the difference in the eyes the most noticeable, and it’s instantaneous too…..

  29. […] being buried alive before at the Gimcrack. If you want to refresh your memory you can read about it here and here. Or you could just read this post […]

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