Notes from the John Martin Rare Book Room, May 2014: Jean Étienne Dominique Esquirol

Jean Étienne Dominique Esquirol (1772-1840)

Des maladies mentales considérées sous les rapports médical, hygiénique et médicolégal. 2 vols. Brussels : J.B. Tircher, 1838.

An inmate of Bethlem Hospital in 1814, who has been identified as William Norris, from Jean-Étienne Dominique Esquirol's Des maladies mentales. Brussels: Libraire médicale et scientifique de JB Tircher, 1838 [Institute of Psychiatry Historical Collection h/Esq]

Esquirol’s drawing of an inmate of Bethlem Hospital.

As Pinel’s most outstanding pupil, Esquirol so closely followed his teacher’s works that the contributions of the two men are sometimes confused. Like Pinel, Esquirol did not attempt to analyze mental illness from a philosophical standpoint, but sought to classify and describe the various kinds of insanity he encountered in his practice.

Esquirol coined the term monomania, a concept which anticipated the modern view of schizophrenia, and he was the first to distinguish hallucination from illusion.

While at Sâlpetrière, where he succeeded Pinel as chief physician, Esquirol introduced formal instruction in psychiatry and gained support for Pinel’s humanitarian reform movements by lecturing throughout Europe. Des maladies mentales, the work for which he is best known, served as a basic text in psychiatry for over fifty years.

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Text via Donna Hirst, Curator of Rare Books for the John Martin Rare Book Room at Hardin Library for the Health Sciences.

Image via

The Father of Biomechanics: Giovanni Alfonso Borelli, 1680-1681

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Borelli. [Image via]

Giovanni Alfonso Borelli (1608-1679) was an Italian Renaissance physicist who sought to make mechanical laws applicable to all physiological phenomena. Borelli, who studied at Padua under Galileo, regarded the human body essentially as a machine whose functions could be explained by the laws of physics. He mentored Marcello Malpighi– who went on to become the father of microscopical anatomy– and was instrumental in the foundation of the Iatrophysical school of thought, which used mathematical and physical principles to understand the material world. At his laboratory in Pisa, Borelli made a number of important discoveries about respiration, circulation, and the muscular system. De Motu Animalium is an illustrated study of human and animal muscular exertion.

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Model for an early submarine. []

 Hinged elbow joint. []       

Bearing weight. []

Ibn Butlan’s Tacuini Sanitatis (1531)

The Maintenance of<br /><br />
The Maintenance of Health by Ibn ButlanImage via the, credit Royal Society

This images are from a 14th century translation of Arabic doctor Ibn Butlan, who died circa 1068. Butlan’s title roughly translates to “health report.” The report addresses the impact of nature, emotional states, daily life, and meteorological conditions on health. Butlan wrote that his book concerned “the six things that are necessary for every man in the daily preservation of his health.” These included:

1. “The treatment of air, which concerns the heart.”

2. “The right use of foods and drinks.”

3. “The correct use of movement and rest.”

4. “The problem of prohibiting excessive wakefulness.”

5. “The correct use of elimination and retention of humors.”

6. “The regulating of the person by moderating joy, anger, fear, and distress.”

Illustration from the 15th century edition of Tacuinum Sanitatis by Ibn Butlan.Wine. Image via                                                                                                                        Making spaghetti. Image via

Notes from the John Martin Rare Book Room, 2014

BERNHARD SIEGFRIED ALBINUS (1697-1770). Tabulae sceleti et musculorum corporis humani. Leiden:  1747

This work is perhaps the most monumental and finest anatomical atlas ever published. The plates, although probably derived from Vesalius, were drawn with painstaking accuracy by Wandelaer and are dated between 1739 and 1747. Albinus described in his preface the methods used in the drawing of the skeletons and “muscle men” to achieve symmetry and beauty in each figure. All of the skeletons and “muscle men” have lush background scenes taken from nature which were chosen to animate the figures and emphasize the harmonious and natural beauty of the human body. The first three plates of the skeleton are each accompanied by outline plates. The following nine plates of the “muscle men” also have an additional outline plate. The final sixteen plates represent individual muscles and parts of muscles and each of the many figures is supplied with an outline drawing unless the letters are engraved directly on the finished figures.

Albinus-832-tab. IV-001

Notes from the John Martin Rare Book Room, November 2013

Notes from the John Martin Rare Book Room, November, 2013

GASPARE TAGLIACOZZI (1545-1599). De curtorum chirurgia per insitionem, libri duo. Venice: 1597.

Tagliacozzi was professor of surgery and anatomy at Bologna. This work, “Concerning the surgery of the mutilated by grafting,” is a classic in the history of plastic surgery and is especially noteworthy for its description of rhinoplasty. Rhinoplasty had been practiced in ancient India and, in the thirteenth century, by a family of itinerant Sicilian surgeons who kept the operation a family secret. The volume is divided into two parts: “Theory of the art of plastic surgery,” and, “Practice of the art,” which describes and illustrates the instruments and operative procedures for restoration of the nose, lip, and ear. Tagliacozzi also fully discussed the complications, such as hemorrhage and gangrene, that often occurred during these operations.


Notes from the John Martin Rare Book Room, September 2013

HANS VON GERSDORFF (ca. 1455-1529). Feldtbuch der Wundartzney. Strasbourg: Bey Hans Schotten, 1530.

Gersdorff was a milGersdorff-149-lxxii-001itary surgeon who gained wide experience during forty years of campaigning and was an expert in the treatment of battlefield injuries. His work covers anatomy, surgery, leprosy, and glossaries of anatomical terms, diseases, and medications. Gersdorff emphasized a well-founded knowledge of anatomy because the surgeon was frequently called on to deal with extensive bodily trauma. He derived his anatomy from Arabic authors and works of Guy de Chauliac. The surgical portion of the work was devoted to wound surgery and covers the methods he employed for extracting foreign objects and amputating limbs. He used a tourniquet to control bleeding when amputating and covered the stump with the bladder of a bovine to help control postoperative hemorrhaging. Of special interest are the sedatives and analgesics, although he appears not to have used them in his practice. The section on leprosy is given over largely to remedies for a disease he did not believe could be cured.