A Cabinet of Medical Curiosities
Before museums there were cabinets of medical curiosities: a dried mermaid might sit next to a giant's shinbone; the skeletons of conjoined twins beside an Egyptian mummy. In this well-illustrated book, the author uses his medical expertise to explore some of these medical freaks, outright frauds and popular myths. He debunks some as mere superstition and offers medical diagnoses for other cases. He explores such bizarre phenomena as spontaneous human combustion; snake and frog colonies living in a person's stomach; and vicious tribes of tail-bearing men. Bondeson also tells the story of Mary Toft, who gained notoriety in 1726 when she allegedly gave birth to 17 rabbits. The book also presents the tragic case of the Ape Woman, a Mexican Indian with thick hair growing over her body and a massive overgrowth of gums, who was exhibited by her husband throughout her life, and mummified on her death in 1860.