The Electric Corset and Other Victorian Miracles

Medical Devices and Treatments from the Golden Age of Quackery


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About the Book

Through the Victorian and Edwardian eras, various health movements emerged in the transition to the modern age of scientific medicine. Strange medical devices and quack cures were pushed, often using crude remedies based on simplistic beliefs and the placebo effect. Currently, some of these treatments appear absurd, even cruel. Because some were properly used as appropriate therapies, it is difficult to label them altogether as bogus.

This book takes a thorough look at unconventional medical gadgets, as well as the strange devices and therapies used by both fringe and legitimate healers, and places them in the perspective of modern medicine. The author argues that quackery should not be defined by the ineffectiveness of a therapy, but rather be based on the fraudulent intent of the people who pushed dishonest and deceptive remedies.

About the Author(s)

Jeremy Agnew, a biomedical electronics consultant, holds a PhD in engineering and has been involved in the design and manufacture of medical devices for more than 30 years. He lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and has written several books on the Old West.

Bibliographic Details

Jeremy Agnew
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 287
Bibliographic Info: 31 photos, glossary, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2021
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8383-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4526-1
Imprint: Exposit

Table of Contents

Preface 1
One. Time for a Change 7
Two. If It Quacks Like a Duck… 26
Three. Promises and Placebos 46
Four. Some Early Medical Devices 59
Five. Magnetic Devices 87
Six. The Mysteries of Electricity 99
Seven. Messing with the Mind 120
Eight. Advanced Electrical Quackery 130
Nine. Reshaping the Outside 157
Ten. Treating the Insides 180
Eleven. Behold the Light 200
Twelve. The Promise of Restored Youth 215
Thirteen. The Power of Radioactivity 235
Postscript 248
Glossary: Medical Terminology 253
Appendix: The Electromagnetic Spectrum 259
Chapter Notes 261
Bibliography 271
Index 275