fearlessness or folly?

John Hunter (February 1728 – October 1793) was a Scottish surgeon regarded as one of the most distinguished scientists and surgeons of his day. He was right about a good many things but sadly mistaken when it came to STDs

Hunterian Museum found here

He thought that gonorrhea and syphilis were caused by a single pathogen. Living in an age when physicians frequently experimented on themselves, he inoculated himself with gonorrhea into incisions he had made in his own penis, using a needle that was unknowingly contaminated with syphilis. When he contracted both syphilis and gonorrhea, he claimed it proved his erroneous theory that there was only one venereal disease. The characteristic nodule of the pox which appeared on his penis was later designated the “Hunterian chancre”.

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To cure his pox Hunter repeatedly swilled his mouth with corrosive sublimate and toxic mercury. These substances give mouth ulcers, loosen the teeth and produce pints of black saliva. Some hospitals had “salivating wards” where one could dribble in private

He included his findings in an illustrated Treatise on the Venereal Disease which was so graphic it even put James Boswell off sex for a week. Because of Hunter’s reputation, knowledge concerning the true nature of gonorrhea and syphilis was retarded, and it was not until 51 years later that his theory was proved to be wrong.

James Boswell found here

In 1791, when Joseph Haydn was visiting London for a series of concerts, Hunter offered to perform an operation for the removal of a large nasal polyp which was troubling the great Austrian composer. According to one account, “Haydn, on his visit to London in 1791, wrote folksong arrangements, including The Ash Grove, set to words by Mrs Hunter. Haydn had designs on Mrs Hunter. Her husband … had designs on Haydn’s famous nasal polyp. Both were refused.”

Haydn found here

August and everything after

August Karl Gustav Bier (November 1861 – March 1949) was a German surgeon who pioneered the “Bier Block”.

August Bier found here

In 1898 he invented spinal anaesthesia, which involved a small dose of cocaine being injected into the cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the spinal cord. That was a great improvement on existing methods of general anaesthesia, but how effective was it?

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To find out, Bier decided to be anaesthetised himself. But things didn’t go as planned for Bier – or for his hapless assistant, Augustus Hildebrandt.

Hildebrandt was supposed to administer the cocaine but, thanks to a mix-up with the equipment, Bier was left with a hole in his neck from which cerebrospinal fluid began to flow.

Rather than abandon the effort, however, the two men switched places. Once Hildebrandt had been anaesthetized, Bier stabbed, hammered and burned his assistant, pulled out his pubic hairs and – presumably eager to leave no stone unturned in testing the new method’s efficiency – squashed his testicles.

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Once the cocaine had worn off, the pair went out for a boozy dinner, despite their injuries. Both suffered terribly in subsequent days but, while Bier took it easy as he recovered, Hildebrandt had to stand in for his boss at work.

Bier went down in medical history while Hildebrandt is mainly remembered as the man whose testicles he tugged.

smell my belly button

Recently I read Joshua Davis’ charming book “The Underdog” which details his dream of being best in the world at something. He competes in arm wrestling, bullfighting, sumo, backwards running and the Sauna World Championship

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“Would-be contestants had to submit a doctor’s letter months in advance.  The doctor’s letter was required because the competition sauna was hot enough to kill you. No American doctor in his right mind would have authorised us to essentially cook ourselves so we needed to find another way of getting the letter.

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John obtained letters for all of us from a Dr Ed Point (R.P.) of the Point Medical Clinic. The R.P. after Ed Point’s name signified that he was a board certified “Renaissance Physician”.The clinic’s other staff included a urologist named Peter Stickler, a dermatologist named Mark Wartly and a gynecologist named Seymour Lips.

image found here

I picked up a copy of “Saunas: A Collection of Works” which contained an essay about “löyly“, the essential principle or essence of the sauna. The author, Giles Ekola, informed his readers that löyly could not be translated into any language and absolutely must not be translated as steam. He called it vaporized moisture that is in a process of drying which sounded a lot like steam to me. 

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However, he did help his readers to pronounce the word. He coached me to say “ler” and then “lew”. This exercise “makes it possible for the non-Finnish-speaking persons to lose their fear of the word, to accept it as a gentle friend and to pronounce and possess it as their own easily and readily.” It sounded like he wanted to have sex with the word.

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At dinner that night we went over the Finnish words we knew. John only remembered three phrases, one of which he warned us never to use.  “Smell my belly button” was, according to John, the single worst thing you could say to a Finnish person.

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From an interview Joshua did with Failure Magazine:

Of the five different competitions you recount in the book, which one was most frightening?

There’s the frightening you know and the frightening you don’t. Bullfighting was the frightening that you know. You can imagine a bull. You know it has horns and you have a sense that it’s very dangerous. That was scary because I had all sorts of assumptions and pre-established fears of what it was going to be like. But once I was in the ring I felt relatively comfortable. The process of dancing with a bull came to me intuitively.

image found here

In terms of the fear I didn’t know it was definitely the sauna contest in Finland. I knew it was going to be hot but when I got in there I felt like I was going to die. If I stayed in that sauna another 30 seconds I would have passed out, and if they didn’t drag me out I would have expired. I had steam burns all over my body. When I was sitting in the sauna I was thinking, “This is really, really stupid.” The burns took two weeks to heal.

Are these unusual contests more commonplace in America or foreign countries?

In “The Underdog” I make the argument that these contests are idiosyncratic to America, but I’ve changed my mind. Since the book was released I’ve been getting email from people all over the world telling me about unusual competitions. At underdognation.com I have 50 or so contests listed and I am adding more every week. The Finns are particularly crazy. They have the Sauna World Championship, the cell phone chucking contest, bog soccer and ice swimming.

image found here

Published in: on June 13, 2011 at 4:07 am  Comments (42)  
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Tone up that vag!

Marion Sayle Taylor was a broadcaster in the 1930s known as The Voice of Experience

The title of “Doctor” was applied to him at the suggestion of William Jennings Bryan when he was already well known as an adviser to the lovelorn. Bryan suggested that Taylor call himself “Doctor of Matrimony.” Taylor was careful never to give any medical advice— except to endorse the patent medicines which sponsored his programs: Wasey Products (Musterole, Kreml Hair Tonic, and a brace of nostrums known as Zemo and Haley’s CTC, for stomach acidity).

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Before adopting the career of mass confessor, Taylor was a proficient organist. He was guest organist at the St. Louis Fair of 1904 but an automobile accident crushed his hands in 32 places and took him from the manual.

origami organist found here

So successful was his booming voice and his clean handling of sex problems that he employed 29 private secretaries, all male, to answer his intimate correspondence. In addition to broadcasting, Taylor had time to write 120 pamphlets on such subjects as “Facts About Fruits“, “Why Be Unique?”, “Why Take Your Own Life?”, “The Nudist Fad“, “Feminine Shapeliness”, “War of the Sexes”, “Square Pegs in Round Holes”, “Promiscuous Kissing“, “The In-Law Problem” and “Are You Afraid of Insanity?“. He also has a wife and a daughter, lives on Manhattan’s Park Avenue, with a private gymnasium in his apartment to keep himself fit.

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The practical charity that Mr. Taylor does is enormous. From his own pocket he has paid for innumerable funerals, bought wooden legs and glass eyes, met rent bills. In 1934 alone The Voice paid for 413 blood transfusions and the hospital bills of 583 unwed mothers.

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According to the Bureau of Investigation, he also sold a patent medicine known as Vagitone.

It used to come as a liquid but now, with a name change to La-Fon, it has been put out in powder form. He also sells a device that he calls Vagispray. M Sayle Taylor has appeared at motion picture theatres in connection with films of an erotic character. He has also given “stage presentations”  in which were used “living models” and “human charts”.

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Taylor puts out an elaborate little book “The Male Motor”, a treatise devoted to the promotion of a device called the “Thermalaid”, a rectal dilator with a rheostat attachment.

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the gay lord and the doctor of lust

Helmut Hauser had a normal happy childhood until he contracted tuberculosis of the hip when he was sixteen. His parents sent him to a sanatorium in Switzerland run by a doctor named Benedict Lust.

Benedict Lust

Dr Lust was the founder of American naturopathy and the author of a book on zone therapy. Dr Harold Dick was also a naturopath who became interested in this field when he was miraculously cured of boils and his sister in law expelled a cancerous tumour through her vagina – all thanks to one of Dr Lust’s follower’s, Dr Carroll.

Helmut was so impressed with Dr Lust‘s cure that he decided to devote his life to the promotion of nutrition, health and beauty. For this venture he adopted the new name of Gayelord Hauser and launched Swiss Kriss Laxatives.

Gayelord and Garbo

Inspired by this early success Gayelord moved himself and his well-cleansed bowels to pre-War Hollywood where he found a welcoming milieu: the narcissistic youth-obsessed movie community. Soon Marlene and Gloria and all the girls were in the thrall of the good-looking “doctor” who promised to add years to their pampered lives while making them even more beautiful.

Marlene

Nobody was immune to the audacious and over-reaching pronouncements of Herr Hauser:

– “Lack of calcium produces fear of the dark, nail biting and gossiping.”

– “Worry turns the hair grey by destroying the adrenal glands.”

– “Blackstrap molasses will add five years to your life and re-grow hair on bald spots.”

“that wonderful body of yours”

Was he a quack? Maybe just a little bit, but so what! At least he had charisma and fabulosity. When he wasn’t lounging around his groovy pad in Sicily with his boyfriend Frey Brown and his longtime beard Greta Garbo, or playing canasta with Paulette Goddard and the Duchess of Windsor, he was snapping up 90210 real estate. Gayelord was cool because he took his gay tubercular hip and made an unstoppable brand out of it. Having bought whole chunks of Rodeo Drive when it was cheap, he died a wealthy poofter at the ripe old age of 89.


Paulette Goddard and the hard-milled facial that lasts