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An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug, Cocaine Paperback – July 3, 2012
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“A tour de force of scientific and social history, one that helps illuminate a unique period in the long story of medical discovery. . . . Absorbing and thoroughly documented . . . a vivid narrative of two of the most remarkable of the many contributors to our understanding of human biology and function.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“Incisive. . . . An irresistible cautionary tale.”
—The Wall Street Journal
“Terrific. . . . This rich, engrossing book reminds us of the strangeness of even heroic destinies.”
—Los Angeles Times
“Markel creates rich portraits of men who shared, as he writes of Freud, a 'particular constellation of bold risk taking, emotional scar tissue, and psychic turmoil.'“
—The New Yorker
“A rich, revelatory new book. . . . [Markel is] a careful writer and a tireless researcher, and as a trained physician himself, Markel is able to pronounce on medical matters with firmness and authority.”
“A splendid history . . . [Markel is a] fluent, incisive and often subtly funny writer.”
—The Baltimore Sun
“Provocative . . . persuasive and engrossing.”
"Compelling and compassionate . . . a book that profoundly demonstrates the complexity and breadth of their genius . . . a richly woven analysis complete with anecdotes, historical research, photos and present-day knowledge about the character of the addictive personality."
“From the dramatic opening scene on the first page to the epilogue, An Anatomy of Addiction is a hugely satisfying read. Howard Markel is physician, historian and wonderful storyteller, and since his tale involves two of the most compelling characters in medicine, I could not put it down—addictive is the word for this terrific book.”
—Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone
“It’s a fascinating book about fascinating men, but even more interesting for those of us who want a glimpse of modern medicine when it was just starting to develop.”
—The New Republic
“Dr. Markel braids these men’s stories intricately, intelligently and often elegantly.”
—The New York Times
“Markel brilliantly describes the paradox of [Halsted’s and Freud’s] lives.”
“Inspired, entertaining and informative . . . [Markel] tells this fascinating tale in an insightful contemporary book that is both intellectually engaging and exceptionally well written.”
—Journal of the American Medical Association
“[A] witty, wide-ranging book.”
“A richly engaging book . . . highly recommended.”
“Well-researched. . . . A thoughtful picture of late 19th century medicine.”
—The San Francisco Chronicle Book Review
“Colorful study . . . brisk . . . an engaging well-researched historical homily about fame and foible.”
“A fascinating revelation of conditions prevailing in hospitals and medical circles in the late 19th and 20th centuries.”
—New York Journal of Books
“The best medical histories are the ones that cause the imagination to run riot. A fast-rising master of satisfying this human quest for mind-altering willies is the Michigan medical historian Howard Markel.”
—The Winnipeg Free Press
“With both wit and style, Markel has produced a scrupulously researched, meticulously detailed account of the history of cocaine, as well as the drug dependences of Halsted and Freud.”
—Hopkins Medicine Magazine
About the Author
Howard Markel, M.D., Ph.D., is the George E. Wantz Distinguished Professor of the History of Medicine and director of the Center for the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan. His books include Quarantine! and When Germs Travel. His articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Journal of the American Medical Association, and The New England Journal of Medicine, and he is a frequent contributor to National Public Radio. Markel is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Top Customer Reviews
Dr. Markel's command of his subject is impressive; his excellent source materials include letters, journal articles, and monographs. The author provides enlightening background information about medical practice in the nineteenth century, especially in the United States and Vienna. He vividly describes Bellevue Hospital in New York City, Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, and the Allgemeines Krankenhaus in Vienna, large complexes that were bursting at the seams with both affluent and indigent patients. Young physicians-in-training flocked to these institutions to learn from more experienced and skilled medical practitioners.
It is fascinating to learn how naïve people were concerning cocaine's short and long-term effects. The same could be said of opium, morphine, and laudanum, all of which were dispensed liberally to treat a host of complaints. No one understood the underlying nature of addiction. There were no "rehabs." If someone were unfortunate enough to become dependent on a drug, he or she would have a very difficult time breaking the habit. Freud and Halsted were particularly susceptible to this disease because of who they were.Read more ›
While the focus is on two contemporay physcians, both trapped by the addictive powers of cocaine, Markel details enlightens us as to the ways of the era of modern medicine. Freud and Halsted (the premier surgeon-in-chief of the John Hopkins Hospital) belief that the super drug potentially capable of curing anything. It would bring them fame and fortune as a pharmaceutical. Sadly there personal trials brought them a debilitating curse. The study details the pathological dispersion of addiction in a manner that is very easily understood by a layman. Through-out the book is written to be understood, and the story line will captivate you. To readers,as myself, the author Markel may be addictive!
Peruvian Indians on the eastern slopes of the Andes have been chewing coca leaves for centuries. Their Inca ancestors used it in many religious rituals and initiation rites. Chewing coca leaves was found to have the remarkable ability to suppress hunger, increase tolerance, and stretch the bounds of human endurance, but is no more harmful than several cups of coffee. It wasn't until around 1860 that the devil was unleashed by a German scientist who converted the leaves into the highly purified coca alkaloid.
If there is such a thing as an addictive personality, Freud certainly had it. He became so enamored with cocaine and fascinated with its effects on the mind that he considered it a treatment for morphine addiction and depression among many other ailments. Halsted was interested in the drug's anesthetic qualities and how it could aid him in surgery, so began experimenting on himself by injecting the drug into his arm.
Both men consumed great quantities of the drug and eventually encountered serious problems because they had done so. At the time, the late 1800's, addiction as a bona fide medical diagnosis was not in the medical vocabulary. Freud struggled with this demon for twelve years and Halsted, it is speculated, struggled with cocaine as well as morphine addiction until his death in 1922.Read more ›
William Halsted, a contemporary of Freud, was a Yale trained chief of surgery at John Hopkins Hospital who developed important surgical techniques while also dealing with his own addiction to cocaine. His efforts to control the addition also resulted in a profound self-control which contributed to his development of surgical techniques with significant theraputical benefits, including the introduction of germ-free operating rooms at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He is also created with first using the now mandatory rubber glove in surgery.
The story of these two scientific pioneers, and the role that cocaine played in their personal and professional lives, is fascinating. Also included are stories of famous advocates of the cocaine-enhanced wine "Vin Mariani", developed in the 1860's, who included Ulysses S. Grant, Jules Verne, and Thomas Edison, among many others.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I selected this book as research material for a paper on cocaine. The book arrived ahead of schedule, in perfect condition. Read morePublished 8 months ago by kris
Beautifully written, Great illustrations. Very few books are this good.Published 11 months ago by vmiman
This is an excellent, well-written book that tells the story of the cocaine addictions of Sigmund Freud and William Halsted. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Metallurgist
This is the first medical history book I have read and I (seriously) had difficulty putting it down. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Nicholas Warren