File It Under “C” for “Crackpot”

Diseases of Modern Life

There is a folder in my desk-drawer at the moment, one of several containing the fruits of months of research into various aspects of nineteenth-century science and disease. This particular file, however, seems to increase in girth disproportionately quickly when compared to the others. Whenever I come across a page destined to be crammed into this ungainly, overstuffed behemoth, I can’t help but sigh and think again the same thought: my goodness, there are some loonies out there. This is the folder I use when I need to file something under Crackpots.

Peeking from the top of my folder at the moment are some pages on the work of the German psychiatrist Johann Christian Reil, one of the most eminent medical scientists of his day, the founder of several medical journals, and the preferred physician of, amongst others, Goethe and Schilling, who in 1803 proposed the ‘music’ of a katzenclavier

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