Archive for the ‘history’ Category

A woman wearing men’s clothing and claiming to talk directly with God wouldn’t seem to be committing capital crimes.

But in the 15th century, she certainly would have been.

These offenses play a part in the legendary history of Joan of Arc, the teenage heroine who led giant armies to fight against the English during the Hundred Years’ War. She was eventually captured, tried for her crimes, and burned at the stake at the age of 19.

But in modern times, would she be convicted of her crimes on the basis of an insanity plea?

According to a jury of about 200 physicians, forensic psychologists, lawyers, judges, and medical students, the future saint would have been acquitted.

Apparently, having visions of other saints is a sign of mental instability, not heresy.

“She was not mentally responsible for what she had done, as in she was delusional,” Dr. Philip A. Mackowiak, a Carolyn Frenkil and Selvin Passen History of Medicine Scholar-in-Residence at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Mackowiak founded the Historical Clinicopathological Conference, held this year at the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Davidge Hall, the oldest medical facility in the country continuously used for medical education. While similar groups meet to discuss current cases at the university, every year they choose one historic case to dig into.

In 24 years, they’ve covered cases including Beethoven (syphilis), Florence Nightingale (bipolar disorder with psychotic features), Christopher Columbus (HLA-B27-related reactive arthritis), and Charles Darwin (cyclic vomiting syndrome).

At this year’s conference, held last week, they dug into a case memorialized in tempera paint and currently hanging in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

What Disease Shaped ‘Christina’s World?’

In Andrew Wyeth’s 1948 painting “Christina’s World,” a woman lies in an open field looking toward a house in the distance.

The woman depicted in the painting, Anna Christina Olson, was a friend of Wyeth. She suffered from a mysterious disorder that slowly degraded her ability to walk, so she’d make her way around the grounds by pulling herself along with her hands.

She was later confined to a wheelchair and died in 1968 at the age of 74.

What exactly was the cause of her symptoms?

Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT), according to Mayo Clinic neurologist Marc Patterson.

CMT, named after the doctors who discovered it, is a group of inherited disorders that affect the peripheral nerves, causing symptoms that include loss of muscle and fine motor skills. It remains incurable and one of the most common inherited neurological disorders.

To reach his diagnosis, Patterson reviewed not only the painting but also what was available of Olson’s medical records from what little biographical information her nieces wrote about her.

“This was a fascinating case,” Patterson said in a press release. “This painting has long been a favorite of mine, and the question of Christina’s ailment was an intriguing medical mystery. I think her case best fits the profile of this disease.”

Piecing Together Historical Health Records

Besides Patterson and the rest of the conference’s expertise, the symptoms were checked using a super computer located at Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, which confirmed the diagnosis.

It also affirmed the previous year’s case, Oliver Cromwell, the English monarch who died in 1658. His undoing was a combination of malaria and typhoid fever caused by a salmonella infection.

Mackowiak takes pride in selecting the case and keeping it under an air of mystery before each year’s conference. The cases are often given vague titles, yet he says most people figure it out before they convene.

Beethoven was “The Sound That Failed,” and Alexander the Great was “Death of a Deity.”

Who was “The Greatest Tragedy in the History of Music?”

No, not Prince, David Bowie, or even John Lennon. It was Mozart, who died of acute rheumatic fever.

Another part of the mystery is that these historical House M.D.s rarely have full autopsy reports or even a single medical record for their subjects, so there is quite a bit of detective work. That only adds to the fun.

In the case of Booker T. Washington, researchers found his great-grandson, who is a physician and helped find Washington’s great-granddaughter. She gave them access to his medical records.

While syphilis was first suspected as a potential cause of death, a blood test done at Rockefeller Hospital in New York City tested negative.

In 2006, the clinicopathological conference determined the slave-turned-advisor to the president died of nephrosclerosis and hypertensive cardiomyopathy. In other words, the man worked his heart to death.

Other cases had to be decided on what was written in the legends.

In the case of Pericles, dubbed “the first citizen of Athens,” researchers went off of descriptions of what happened during the plague that also claimed his sons and first wife.

“To say we provide shocking new information would be an exaggeration,” Mackowiak said.

Mackowiak provides more information on these cases in his two books, “Post-Mortem: Solving History’s Great Medical Mysteries” and “Diagnosing Giants: Solving the Medical Mysteries of Thirteen Patients Who Changed the World.”

For him, every case, every conference meeting highlights how although doctors believe what they’re doing right now is correct, their grandchildren and great-grandchildren will look back and see how wrong they were.

“There is no perfect knowledge,” Mackowiak said. “You do the best with what you have.”

http://www.healthline.com/health-news/medical-researchers-solve-historic-deaths#6

hitler-kettle_2574818b

Trouble is brewing for an American retailer after customers noted that one of its tea kettles bears a striking resemblance to Adolf Hitler.

Bemused motorists took photographs of the huge JCPenney billboard advertising the kettle as they drove past it on the 405 Interstate highway near Culver City in California, one of America’s busiest stretches of roads.

“That Hitler looks like a kettle,” commented one user of Reddit, one of the several websites where the image was posted over the weekend.

“He even has his right arm extended,” wrote another, while a third added: “I’m a little Nazi, short and stout”.

Things that look Hitler have become a popular web meme – with the genre perhaps defined by the house in Swansea that bears an unsettling resemblance to the Nazi Fuhrer.

The kettle – officially the Michael Graves Design Bells and Whistles Stainless Steel Tea Kettle – retails for £35.08 on the JCPenney website, and can be delivered to the UK.

“This stainless steel tea kettle has all the bells and whistles you’ll need – a cool-touch handle, space-saving design and a delightful whistle to let you know when it’s ready to pour,” the website stated.

One reviewer on the website noted that she loved the kettle’s “sleek European design”. “My kids love when it boils and starts to whistle,” she wrote. “I can not say enough good things about this!”

A second reviewer was less enthralled, however, describing the quality of the kettle as “extremely poor”. “Mostly (sic) importantly the kettle’s bell does NOT ring and its whistle volume is extremely low!” the consumer wrote.

When listing pros, however, the same user noted that the appliance “looks beautiful”.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/10084348/Kettle-that-looks-like-Hitler-brews-trouble-for-JCPenney.html

It could be the scene from a nuclear holocaust. A once-thriving city reduced to mere rubble, a 700-year-old cathedral barely left standing, trees that proudly lined an idyllic avenue torn to shreds. There’s barely anyone in sight. But the devastation wrought in these rare, haunting images was caused long before the atomic bomb came into existence.
It is the apocalyptic aftermath of dogged fighting along the Western Front during World War One when Allied and German forces tried to shell each other into submission with little success other than leaving a trail of utter carnage and killing millions.

The strategically important Belgian city of Ypres, which stood in the way of Germany’s planned sweep into France from the North, bore the brunt of the onslaught.
At its height, the city was a prosperous centre of trade in the cloth industry known throughout the world. After the war, it was unrecognizable. The Cloth Hall, which was one of the largest commercial buildings of the Middle Ages when it served as the city’s main market for the industry, was left looking like a medieval ruin.
Its stunning cathedral, St Martin’s, fared little better

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Apocalypse: This was all that remained of the Belgian town of Ypres in March 1919 after fierce fighting during World War One reduced it to mere rubble

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In rehab: An aerial view of Ypres under construction in 1930 which gives an idea of how the city looked before it was bombarded during the Great War

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Felled: Trees along an avenue in Locre, Belgium, lie torn to shreds. These images are from a series documenting the devastation caused along the Western Front

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Destroyed: The Hotel de Ville in Arras, Northern France, looks more like a medieval ruins after it was heavily shelled during World War One

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Shaping nature: A huge bomb crater at Messines Ridge in Northern France, photographed circa March 1919, soon after the end of World War One

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Reflected glory: A peaceful pond is what remains today of the craters made by massive mines on the Messines Ridge near Ypres. Their explosion was heard in London

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Sorry sight: The Cloth Hall at Ypres, which was one of the largest commercial buildings of the Middle Ages when it served as the main market for the city’s cloth industry

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Standing proud: How the Cloth Hall looked just before before the 1st bombardment by the Germans during the first battle of Ypres in October 1914

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Doomsday: St Martin’s cathedral at Ypres, which was rebuilt using the original plans after the war. At 102 metres (335 ft), it is among the tallest buildings in Belgium

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Devastation: St Martin’s Cathedral was the seat of the former diocese of Ypres from 1561 to 1801 and is still commonly referred to as such

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How it looked before: The cathedral was rebuilt to the original Gothic design, with a spire added, as seen here in 1937

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Clear-up effort: The East end of the Nave in the Basilique at Saint-Quentin in Northern France photographed soon after the end of World War One, circa March 1919

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Shot to pieces: The wreckage of a tank. Some 7.5million men lost their lives on the Western Front during World War One

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Forlorn: A little girl cuts a sorry figure surrounded by the ruined buildings in the French village of Neuve Eglise, which was heavily bombed

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2282108/World-War-One-wasteland-Haunting-rare-images-apocalyptic-destruction-Western-Front.html#ixzz2LZUhxVxX

Thanks to Kebmodee for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.