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Madness/Medicine/Taboos/Interesting Gory stuff Discussion

(25 Posts)
TheWanderingUterus Sun 13-Oct-13 13:38:52

If I remember correctly one of the reasons this forum is here was a wonderful thread a year or so ago which attracted lots of similar types who wanted to talk about about icky and gory stuff from history. I was on that thread (a lot! grin) and I suspect there are lots of us hiding out there.

So come and share, recommend books, articles, exhibitions and those really interesting tidbits that you would certainly not have been taught at school. The stuff that if you tell other people gets you funny looks and plenty of space around you at parties!

I know you are out there! Come and talk to me and make me feel less like some weird loner freak with unpalatable interests.

TheWanderingUterus Fri 18-Oct-13 14:06:25

Ok. So I am a freak with unpalatable interests, nothing at all new there.


I shall continue to add stuff and hope to flush some of you out of the woodwork.

Starting with a recommendation for a book- Edward Shorter's History of Women's Bodies. Utterly readable and totally shocking and heartbreaking, it looks at medical involvement in women's health over the centuries, with the obvious main focus on birth. I have two copies in case I ever lose one.

I shall return.....

Rumours Mon 21-Oct-13 21:46:04

bumping fot you. I have nothing of interest to add sorry, but would like to know more grin

TheWanderingUterus Mon 21-Oct-13 22:52:44

Thank you Rumours!

Just a quick book recommendation as I should be reading about the origins of psychoanalysis.

This is a little technical in places but I really believe its worth the effort. The medical origin of vibrators was something I was completely unaware of, neither was I aware of the fact that they were brought in as doctors were fed up of using their hands to bring women to orgasm - all for good medical reasons of course.

While you are waiting for the book to be delivered from Amazon here is an article by the same author:

And ogle the website of this man who collects antique vibrators:

I don't think he has a clockwork one though (yes they existed)

TheWanderingUterus Thu 24-Oct-13 22:05:24

This made me laugh today.

Reminded me of getting DD photographed as a baby by Pixi Photo in Boots. You can see my arm covered with a cloth and her clothes are bunched a bit as I have a massive handful clutched behind her. This is a whole new level.......

TheWanderingUterus Thu 24-Oct-13 22:33:31

I've also got lost on the Museum of menstruation website again. This is a fabulously weird website, very dense but with lots of tiny links to discover all sorts of brilliant stuff.

Like: lots of mooncup-a-likes this is the leaflet for the strange instrument above, you can click through the pages underneath

CircassianLeyla Sun 03-Nov-13 18:02:02

Oh my goodness...

Some great stuff here. I am rubbish and have nothing to add. I am going to look at the vibrator stuff in detail, who knew such stuff existed.

I tried to reply but it didn't work so will go on my laptop later. I think I may have found a kindred spirit.

Queenofknickers Sun 03-Nov-13 18:05:08

Ooh placemarking as I love this stuff.... Will think of some bits to add too...

DaleyBump Sun 03-Nov-13 18:15:51

Marking place! I used to have loads of stories like this but I've forgotten them over the years sad

TheWanderingUterus Sun 03-Nov-13 19:52:31

Ooooooh new like minded people, how exciting.

I just finished 'we didnt't know aught' by Margaret Sutton about women in Lincolnshire. She collected oral history reminiscences about taboo subjects from the 1930's to the 1960's.

Loads of funny, fascinating and sad stories from secret lovers codes, to wedding nights, sex, birth, miscarriage, contraception, illegitimacy, domestic violence, abortion and menstruation.

If anyone is interested in anything in particular I can post some bits on here.

CircassianLeyla Sun 03-Nov-13 22:04:04

Illegitimacy for me. You are a font if knowledge.

Fishandjam Sun 03-Nov-13 22:10:49

I've just finished reading "Stiff: The Curious Lives Of Human Cadavers" for the nth time. It's riveting and not at all icky, though it isn't for the squeamish!

TheWanderingUterus Mon 04-Nov-13 14:49:28

I liked that one fishandjam, there are some excellent books about the body farm I also enjoyed, have you come across those?

Right illegitimacy.

Lincoln woman recalls that her daughter got pregnant out of wedlock at fifteen or sixteen and had to get married (1959). She says 'he could have got something from the barbers (condoms) but our C always said that he didn't need a haircut'. The deed was done in the local cemetery.

One woman remembers a woman in the 1930s who had four illegitimate babies but still married and had more children with her husband who took on her kids too.

A doctors son who got a woman pregnant. His parents looked after the woman financially and she returned to work for them once her daughter was born. Their son was sent away abroad.

Administrator of the Harmston Colony- a place for unmarried mothers. 'Girls and women who were mentally handicapped, unmarried and had given birth to an illegitimate baby were committed to the hospital under the mental health act. They were termed feebleminded or moral defectives.… Once admitted, the mother had no say in whether or not she left the hospital.'

Nurse from St. John's hospital. ' Parents or relatives of the unmarried mother could say that she was insane and then no formalities were necessary to admit them into a mental institution. Once the woman was admitted into the hospital she took on' copy behaviour': she acted like the other patients in order to survive.'

Story of a woman who got pregnant by an American serviceman. He was waiting on the dock as she arrived in America and he shouted up to her on the boat 'don't get off the boat, I'm married!'. She made a new life in America

89 year old man tells us that his great grandparents generation exchanged hair when the man went off to sea, 'that's not the sort on their heads but the other'

From Margaret Sutton's book. There is more but that's all I have time for.

Fishandjam Tue 05-Nov-13 22:05:53

That's interesting stuff wandering.

Have you read "Mutants" by Armand Marie Leroi? Really fascinating, despite the rather prurient title.

TheWanderingUterus Tue 05-Nov-13 22:56:59

Yup, enjoyed that one a lot. I also liked the 'pig face lady' lady book and the 'cabinet of medical curiosities', both very interesting.

I don't know if you have come across this website but I managed to waste an entire day on there once.

Rereading 'The Curse' by Delaney today. In terms of readability about the cultural history of menstruation it's pretty good, but personally I prefer Houppert's 'The Curse'.

Either way its a nice distraction from the Imagist poetry and psychoanalytical theory and history that I am supposed to be reading. And struggling to make headway on. There are only so many penis metaphors and castration complexes I can take in a day.

TheWanderingUterus Fri 15-Nov-13 13:11:39

I made a brilliant find a few days ago in a second hand shop. A little pamphlet entitled 'Advice to Married Women' from 1946. It's only 14 or so pages long. The first bit is about the evils of unplanned pregnancy and the second bit is all the technical stuff. It was published by a medical company who I think made the pessary recommended in the leaflet. The inside cover made me laugh, it's for another product made by the company and shows a man digging with a big slogan saying 'End Rupture now!'. Somewhat of a shock when you are expecting contraceptive advice.

I have been trying to scan it onto my blog, but all the pages got out of order and I couldn't sort them on my tiny ipad screen. I'll try again when I have a spare five minutes and link here if anyone is interested.

It was in a bundle with some recipe leaflets, baby and child leaflets and home information leaflets from the 30s to the 50s. I got another little book on information for the home from (I think 1915) from Oxfam. The adverts are marvellous!

TheWanderingUterus Fri 15-Nov-13 13:12:22

Oh and a women's magazine from 1937.

knitknack Tue 19-Nov-13 20:08:13

I've just read 'Bathsheba' Breast' which is mire jaw-dropping than icky really - reading the experiences of women undergoing radical mastectomies with no hint on anaesthetic... I found it after reading a snippet of a source on one woman's experience with my year 10s (am teaching GCSE history of medicine). Heart breaking but I recommend it. I'm off now to explore some of the wonderful looking links that wandering uterus has posted.

Actually, you lot maybe the only ones interested in the jewellery that I saw for sale in Libertys the other day - some range incorporating bits of victorian photographer that was obviously meant to be a bit 'vintage' and a bit 'aw' (or maybe steampunk, I don't know). Anyway a couple of necklaces had photos of babies/young children that were so obviously memento mori, it was heartbreaking! No mention of it so I don't THINK it was intentional. It left me feeling a bit weird - someone's final memory of their baby ending up for sale in the 'quirky' section of a jewellery shop... Then again, I guess how could the jewellery maker NOT have known? Anyway - way to go off topic!!

knitknack Tue 19-Nov-13 20:08:46

More not mire!

TheWanderingUterus Tue 19-Nov-13 20:48:47

Hello knitknack. I've added that book to my amazon wish list. Looks interesting.

I did history of medicine as part of my GCSE in history in the mid-90s. Along with women in china and changes in a building over time. That was the first time when I was properly and utterly grabbed by history and I realised it was about more than men and battles and politics. It completely changed my life grin, when my classmates were out getting drunk I was reading books on osteoarchaeology and people preserved in bogs (I can recommend P.V Glob's book 'The Bog People' - excellent with lots of pictures of preserved bodies).

Memento mori pictures are so sad and fascinating, how bizarre that they are being used as jewellery, may be a step too far even for me!

Couple more links:

Urban exploration sites with a heavy leaning towards hospitals and asylums, lots of information and pictures. Very atmospheric.

TheWanderingUterus Tue 19-Nov-13 20:51:51

Also re the jewellery maker, its quite possible that they didn't know, memento mori is not well known I think and it's possible they just googled Victorian children and went from there. I posted a link with hidden mothers on it above and there was some debate I think about whether some of the group photos held a sadly deceased child. It's quite difficult to tell and if you aren't aware of the concept then it probably wouldn't enter your head, especially as we have completely different attitudes to death now.

knitknack Wed 20-Nov-13 19:57:12

Those links are fantastic!

Re the jewellery, my DH was convinced that the designer knew... But I really didn't feel they did - their stuff was so 'whimsical' and there was no mention of it at all.

I'm glad you enjoyed the course!! It's still the same one - I love it to bits! So do the kids - I'm very lucky smile

TheWanderingUterus Wed 20-Nov-13 22:53:36

I'm glad to hear the course is still going. I did an awesome A-level course as well on People, Power and Politics, looking at both the development of political institutions from 1066/popular revolts against the institutions like the peasants revolt/Gordon riots and then also an in depth look at the English civil War and what caused it. Is that one still going too?

At the moment I am reading the collected letters of H.D during her analysis with Sigmund Freud in the 1930's. Her love life was complicated to say the least. Her letters are pretty hard to read, I'm struggling with the in-jokes and nicknames (Freud is referred to as Papa for example). It's a pretty enlightening look at some of the more bohemian behaviours of the 30's and fascinating for Freud fans (sadly I am not....).

TheWanderingUterus Wed 20-Nov-13 22:57:46

Link didn't work when I tried it, just upgraded to io7 and still getting the hang of it. This one may work but otherwise it's the imagist poet Hilda Doolittle

tinatsarina Wed 07-Jun-17 18:06:39

I know this thread is old but I really enjoyed it and wish I had something just as interesting to add

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