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Bulletin of the History of Medicine
Future Publications

Please note:

• The preprints available below have not been typeset or paginated, and further edits are possible. They will be removed from this website once the issues in which they appear are published in print and on MUSE.

TO APPEAR IN - upcoming issues of the Bulletin of the History of Medicine.

“Break-Bone” Fever in Philadelphia, 1780: Reflections on the History of Disease
By: Randall M. Packard
PDF (Posted March 21, 2016)

SUMMARY: In the Autumn of 1780 an epidemic hit the city of Philadelphia. The symptoms of the disease resembled those of present day dengue fever and subsequent observers argued that the disease was in fact dengue. But was it? The question forces us to confront the challenges of retrospective epidemiology and how we examine the history of a disease. This paper examines the 1780 epidemic from two perspectives. First, it looks evidence that the disease was dengue and what this tells us about the epidemic and the conditions that caused it. Second, it looks at the disease from the perspective of Dr. Benjamin Rush, who treated hundreds of patients during the epidemic. In other words, it examines the disease through the lens of eighteenth century medical ideas. The paper concluded that each approach is valuable and reveals different aspects of the relationship between society and disease.
KEYWORDS: breakbone fever, dengue, Benjamin Rush, Philadelphia, epidemics

Spines of Steel: A Case of Surgical Enthusiasm in Cold War America
By: Beth Linker
PDF (Posted March 21, 2016)

SUMMARY: : Just as the prevalence of scoliosis began to decline precipitously after World War II, American orthopedic surgeon Dr. Paul R. Harrington devised a new, invasive surgical system whereby implantable prosthetic metal rods and hooks were used to straighten curved backs. By the 1970s, “Harrington rods” had become the gold standard of surgical scoliosis care in the United States, replacing more conventional methods of exercise, bracing, and casting. This article situates the success of Harrington rods within a much larger and historically longer debate about why, when compared to those in other nations, American surgeons appear to be “more aggressive” and “knife-happy.” Using Harrington’s papers and correspondence, I argue that patients played a vital role in the rise of spinal surgery. As such, this article examines not only how surgical enthusiasm has been historically measured, defined, and morally evaluated, but also how scoliosis became classified as a debility in need of surgical management.
KEYWORDS: surgery, technology, patients, scoliosis, surgical overuse, surgicalization, orthopedics, surgical imaginary, disability, American health care policy

Photographing AIDS: On Capturing a Disease in Pictures of People with AIDS
By: Lukas Engelmann
PDF (Posted March 21, 2016)

SUMMARY: The photography of people with AIDS has been subject to numerous critiques in the 1980s and has become a controversial way of visualizing the AIDS epidemic. While most of the scholarly work on AIDS photography is based in cultural studies and concerned with popular representations, the clinical value of photographs of people with AIDS usually remains overlooked. This article addresses photographs as a “way of seeing” AIDS that contributed crucially to the making of the disease entity AIDS within the history of medicine. Cultural studies methods are applied to analyze clinical photography in the case of AIDS, thus contributing to the medical history of AIDS through the lens of photography. The article reveals the conflation of disease morphology and patient identity as a characteristic feature of both clinical photography and a now historical nature of AIDS.
KEYWORDS: AIDS/HIV, visual history, clinical photography, visualization

Plague Doctors in the HIV/AIDS Epidemic: Mental Health Professionals and the “San Francisco Model,” 1981–1990
By: Thomas R. Blair
PDF (Posted March 21, 2016)

SUMMARY: Psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health professionals were among the first and most crucial responders to HIV/AIDS. Given an epidemic in which behavior and identity played fundamental roles, mental health professionals were uniquely positioned to conduct social research to explain the existence and spread of disease; to develop clinical understanding of psychological aspects of HIV/AIDS as they emerged; and to collaborate with affected communities to promote education and behavioral change. This study examines the roles of mental health professionals as “plague doctors” in San Francisco’s response to HIV/AIDS, in the early years of the epidemic. Among the many collaborations and projects that distinguished the “San Francisco model” of response to this plague, bathhouse-based epidemiology, consult-liaison psychiatry, and community partnerships for counseling and education are examined in detail as illustrations of the epidemic-changing engagement of the mental health community.
KEYWORDS: HIV/AIDS, psychiatry, psychology, mental health, public health, epidemics and epidemiology

Bulletin of the History of Medicine

Bulletin of the History of Medicine is the official journal of the American Association for the History of Medicine.

Volume: 90 (2016)
Frequency: Quarterly
Print ISSN: 0007-5140
Online ISSN: 1086-3176