Medicine’s history of eugenics


Hey folks. The blog hasn’t died or anything. I’ve been tied up in something that’s probably bigger than anything I’ve ever pursued before, and I’m pouring all my free time into it.

Just quickly sharing this article on medicine and eugenics.

Medicine is rife with old eponyms — diseases or body parts named after their discoverers or researchers — that are beginning to be replaced by more logical names for practical reasons. (The term “rectouterine pouch,” after all, tells us more precisely what we are talking about than “pouch of Douglas”).

But this was the first I had heard of the entire medical profession deciding to change an eponym for the sake of revoking honor from someone whose actions were now deemed immoral. And, more than that, the name change accompanied a small but repetitive teaching of why there was a new name — actively passing on the unethical history that led to greater understanding of a rare disease.

When other diseases gained new names, we were typically allowed to use the original eponym and the logical name interchangeably. But here? We were being told: Don’t use this old name.This man was a Nazi, who used tissue from Nazi prisoners to make his discoveries. And this moment of reflection on the history of this disease’s name happened almost every time I was taught about GPA.

The piece goes on to describe some pretty grizzly methods of discovery in medicine, so content warning for racism and extreme violence.

Read more here.

We’ll be back on schedule soon.

-Shiv

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