Document Detail

The galvanic treatment of deafness and the trials at the Berlin Royal Deaf-Mute Asylum in 1802.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  23283242     Owner:  NLM     Status:  Publisher    
In 1802, the director of the Berlin Royal Deaf-Mute Asylum, Ernst Adolph Eschke, performed an experiment to investigate the possibility of curing deafness by means of galvanism. This article explores the hope for a cure for deafness that was connected to the voltaic pile, and concludes that the treatment was based on insufficient knowledge of the aetiology of deafness. Furthermore, it uncovers the competition between the medical and the pedagogic approach to deafness that resulted from the purported cure. Comparing the approaches of different directors of galvanic experiments, divergences in attitudes between the medical and pedagogic realms are revealed. This is explained with reference to the contrasting motives and experiences of educational and medical professionals: the former had reasons to resist a cure to protect their profession, whereas the latter hoped for a medical breakthrough. Since the former had personal and long-lasting relationships to deaf people, while the latter only had brief encounters with deaf patients, the physicians were also more prone to objectify their trial subjects. The report from Eschke's trials is presented as an early document of deaf reactions to attempts to restore their hearing, showing that resistance to medical interventions were prevalent among the deaf already in the early nineteenth century.
Ylva Söderfeldt
Publication Detail:
Type:  JOURNAL ARTICLE     Date:  2013-1-3
Journal Detail:
Title:  European archives of oto-rhino-laryngology : official journal of the European Federation of Oto-Rhino-Laryngological Societies (EUFOS) : affiliated with the German Society for Oto-Rhino-Laryngology - Head and Neck Surgery     Volume:  -     ISSN:  1434-4726     ISO Abbreviation:  Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol     Publication Date:  2013 Jan 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2013-1-3     Completed Date:  -     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  9002937     Medline TA:  Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol     Country:  -    
Other Details:
Languages:  ENG     Pagination:  -     Citation Subset:  -    
Institute for History, Theory and Ethics in Medicine, RWTH Aachen University, University Hospital Aachen, Wendlingweg 2, 52074, Aachen, Germany,
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