Necessary Torture? Digestive Physiology, Vivisection, the Suffragette Movement and Responses to New Forms of Clinical Practice in Britain c.1870-1920

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Abstract

One of the primary aims of late nineteenth-century laboratory experimentation was to ground understandings of illness and disease within new regimes of science. It was also hoped that clinical practice would become increasingly complemented by discoveries and technologies accrued from emergent forms of modern medical enquiry, and that, ultimately, this would lead to improved diagnostic and therapeutic procedures that could be applied to a wide variety of medical complaints. This met with resistance in Britain. So far, analyses of the British reception to forms of scientific medicine have focused on a science versus intuition dichotomy. This article aims to address other aspects intertwined in the debate through an exploration of alternative representations of the medical scientist available and the relation of this to perceptions of clinical practice. Using new technologies of the stomach as a case study, I shall examine how physiologists approached digestion in the laboratory, the responses of antivivisectionists to this, the application of gastric innovations at the clinical level, and the impact of the use of the stomach tube in the suffragette force-feeding controversy.
LanguageEnglish
Pages333-372
JournalJournal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences
Volume64
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2009

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Torture
Suffragette
Clinical Practice
Vivisection
Physiology
Stomach
Therapeutics
Reception
Dichotomy
Diagnostics
Innovation
Digestion
Complaints
Illness
Intuition
Experimentation
Scientific Medicine

Keywords

  • history of stomach
  • history of force-feeding
  • force feeding in prisons
  • force feeding of suffragettes

Cite this

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abstract = "One of the primary aims of late nineteenth-century laboratory experimentation was to ground understandings of illness and disease within new regimes of science. It was also hoped that clinical practice would become increasingly complemented by discoveries and technologies accrued from emergent forms of modern medical enquiry, and that, ultimately, this would lead to improved diagnostic and therapeutic procedures that could be applied to a wide variety of medical complaints. This met with resistance in Britain. So far, analyses of the British reception to forms of scientific medicine have focused on a science versus intuition dichotomy. This article aims to address other aspects intertwined in the debate through an exploration of alternative representations of the medical scientist available and the relation of this to perceptions of clinical practice. Using new technologies of the stomach as a case study, I shall examine how physiologists approached digestion in the laboratory, the responses of antivivisectionists to this, the application of gastric innovations at the clinical level, and the impact of the use of the stomach tube in the suffragette force-feeding controversy.",
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