Quacks & Hacks: Walter Freeman and the Lobotomobile

On 12 November 1935, a Portuguese neurologist named Antonio Egas Moniz [below right] became the first individual to perform what would later be known as a lobotomy. Moniz’s work built upon that of the 19th-century Swiss psychiatrist, Gottlieb Burkhardt, who performed a series of operations in 1888 in which he removed sections of the cerebral […]

Painful Operations: Removing Bladder Stones before Anesthesia

If you visit the Gordon Museum at Guy’s Hospital in London, you’ll see a small bladder stone—no bigger than 3 centimetres across. Besides the fact that it has been sliced open to reveal concentric circles within, it is entirely unremarkable in appearance. Yet, this tiny stone was the source of enormous pain for 53-year-old Stephen […]

The Wandering Womb: Female Hysteria through the Ages

The word “hysteria” conjures up an array of images, none of which probably include a nomadic uterus wandering aimlessly around the female body. Yet that is precisely what medical practitioners in the past believed was the cause behind this mysterious disorder. The very word “hysteria” comes from the Greek word hystera, meaning “womb,” and arises […]

Pre-Order My Book! The Butchering Art

I’m thrilled to reveal the cover for the US edition of my forthcoming book, THE BUTCHERING ART, which will be published by FSG on October 17th. The book delves into the grisly world of Victorian surgery and transports the reader to a period when a broken leg could result in amputation, when giving birth in a […]

Under The Knife – Reboot!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MBNgVKIREE] It’s been 18 months since I’ve filmed an episode of my YouTube series, Under The Knife. But that ends today! Check out the trailer to the series reboot, which may or may not involve my severed head. A NEW episode is coming next week. If you haven’t subscribed to the channel, please do. You’ll […]

Disturbing Disorders: FOP (Stone Man Syndrome)

In a letter dated 14 April 1736, the surgeon John Freke (picture below) wrote to the Royal Society regarding a highly unusual case involving a patient at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London. A boy, who looked ‘about Fourteen Years old’, had come into the hospital to ask ‘what should be done to cure him of […]