Blessed Days of Anaesthesia: How anaesthetics changed the world

Paperback | October 17, 2009

byStephanie J. Snow

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Among all the great discoveries and inventions of the nineteenth century, few offer us a more fascinating insight into Victorian society than the discovery of anaesthesia. Now considered to be one of the greatest inventions for humanity since the printing press, anaesthesia offered pain-freeoperations, childbirth with reduced suffering, and instant access to the world beyond consciousness. And yet, upon its introduction, Victorian medics, moralists, clergymen, and scientists, were plunged into turmoil.This vivid and engaging account of the early days of anaesthesia unravels some key moments in medical history: from Humphry Davy's early experiments with nitrous oxide and the dramas that drove the discovery of ether anaesthesia in America, to the outrage provoked by Queen Victoria's use ofchloroform during the birth of Prince Leopold. And there are grisly ones too: frequent deaths, and even notorious murders. Interweaved throughout the story, a fascinating social change is revealed. For anaesthesia caused the Victorians to rethink concepts of pain, sexuality, and the links between mind and body. From this turmoil, a profound change in attitudes began to be realised, as the view that physical sufferingcould, and should, be prevented permeated through society, most tellingly at first in prisons and schools where pain was used as a method of social control. In this way, the discovery of anaesthesia left not only a medical and scientific legacy that changed the world, but a compassionate onetoo.

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Among all the great discoveries and inventions of the nineteenth century, few offer us a more fascinating insight into Victorian society than the discovery of anaesthesia. Now considered to be one of the greatest inventions for humanity since the printing press, anaesthesia offered pain-freeoperations, childbirth with reduced suffering...

Stephanie Snow is a Research Associate at the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine at the University of Manchester. She wrote her PhD thesis on the life and work of John Snow (1813-1858), and is the author of iOperations Without Pain: The practice and science of anaesthesia in Victorian Britain/i (Palgrave Macmil...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:256 pages, 7.72 × 5.08 × 0.02 inPublished:October 17, 2009Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0192805894

ISBN - 13:9780192805898

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction2. Discoveries3. Anaesthesia in Action4. Women, Sex and Suffering5. On Battlefields6. The Dark Side of Chloroform7. Changed Understandings of Pain8. Into the Twentieth Century and BeyondEndnotesFurther reading