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Rum ManiacsAlcoholic Insanity in the Early American Republic$
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Matthew Warner Osborn

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226099897

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226099927.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 27 May 2022

Discovering Delirium Tremens

Discovering Delirium Tremens

Chapter:
(p.45) Two Discovering Delirium Tremens
Source:
Rum Maniacs
Author(s):

Matthew Warner Osborn

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226099927.003.0003

Chapter 2 describes why delirium tremens became a topic of intense medical interest to American physicians soon after it was first described in 1813. While previously physicians had little interest in treating inebriates, after the delirium tremens diagnosis became widely adopted, drunkards were increasingly put into hospital beds, treated, and studied in a clinical setting. The chapter attributes the widespread adoption of the delirium tremens diagnosis to three main developments. First, the delirium tremens diagnosis derived from developments in American medical education, especially the influence of French physiology and the practice of pathological anatomy. Second, the language and imagery from physicians’ case histories depended on popular romanticism, and especially popular fascination with hallucinations evident in Philadelphia’s popular theater and magic lantern shows. And third, it illustrates how physicians’ case histories linked the disease with concerns about masculine achievement in the context of the profound economic upheaval following the Panic of 1819.

Keywords:   Delirium Tremens, Anatomy, Physiology, Medical education, Hallucinations, Magic Lantern

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