Selected writings of A. Jackson Howe.
Frequent educational squibs, such as too many neglect, often appeared in the Journal from Dr. Howe's pen. This is a fair sample of such briefs, in which he sought to stimulate a desire for broader knowledge than merely that required in the actual treatment of disease. The better read the physician, the better his social standing and his chances of greater success in practice. Moreover, there is a satisfaction in knowing why diseases are named as they are that can not come to the physician who neglects this cultural side of medical studies.—Ed. Gleaner.
CHOREA.—"Scientific medicine" took form in Egypt, and was practiced by priests who were as numerous as diseases; and each specific disorder was an evil spirit, to be influenced by a particular priest. A sick person could be cured by going to the right priest; and the only trouble was to be wise enough to select the one controlling the special ailment. The Latins borrowed medical arts from the Egyptians and inaugurated their own priesthood, who took the name of Saints. St. Clara cured sore eyes; St. Hubert influenced hydrophobia; St. Pernel charmed ague; St. Genevieve controlled fevers; St. Anthony presided over erysipelas; St. Vitus removed nervous disorders, one of which we now denominate chorea, a term coming from the Greek choreia, which signifies a dance. A patient having saltatio sancti viti, being affected with rhythmical and involuntary motions of one or more limbs and of the entire body—the affection disappearing during sleep. The disease is a neurosis of the juvenescent, and of females after puberty. Its pathological essence has never been discovered, but is presumed to be a lesion of the nerve centers. However, it has been known to spring from a neuralgia provoked by a splinter in a finger. Especially does the twitching commence in facial neuralgia—tic doloureux—and then extend to the limbs and body. Feeble persons are oftenest victims to spasmodic activities of the nature of chorea. Epilepsy is presumed to be more or less nearly related to the jumping disorder.—HOWE, Eclectic Medical Journal, 1885.