“Bad Ideas Die Hard, Especially Those that Flatter Our Vanity”

(p. C5) Mütter was one of the first plastic surgeons in America.
. . .
Mütter was also a pioneer of burn surgery.
. . .
Every hero needs a good antagonist and Mütter had a great one, a professor and blowhard named Charles D. Meigs who was as contrary as a Missouri mule. Meigs was a highly regarded obstetrician and one of Mütter’s colleagues at Jefferson. He rejected Mütter’s namby-pamby notions by reflex. Anesthesia? Pshaw! Men and women are put on earth to suffer. Handwashing? Humbug! The very idea that physicians could spread disease was preposterous. As Meigs wrote, “a gentleman’s hands are clean.” Unfortunately, bad ideas die hard, especially those that flatter our vanity. The fight to make medicine as humane as possible continues long after Mütter’s premature death from tuberculosis in 1859.

For the full review, see:
JOHN ROSS. “The Doctor Will See You Now.” The Wall Street Journal (Sat., Aug. 30, 2014): C5.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the review has the date Aug. 29, 2014, and has the title “Book Review: ‘Dr. Mütter’s Marvels’ by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz.”)

The book under review is:
Aptowicz, Cristin O’Keefe. Dr. Müt­ters Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine. New York: Gotham Books, 2014.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.