Category:
Health

Asneezia, Part 2

Two weeks ago I posted about 'Asneezia,' which was the name that a doctor in India (G.D. Shukla) gave to the condition of being unable to sneeze. His non-sneezing patients also suffered from mental illness. He published his report about Asneezia in 1985.

I was somewhat skeptical about the reality of Asneezia. But yesterday, purely by chance, I came across the newspaper story below from 1958 about doctors at a New England psychiatric hospital who noted the odd fact that their patients never suffered from allergies, and so never sneezed. "If you hear a sneeze," one of them said, "you can know it's a staff member's."

As far as I know, Dr. Shukla (reporting about Asneezia in 1985) was unaware of this earlier report from 1958. But having two independent reports of a connection between not-sneezing and mental illness, from different times and different cultures, would seem to confirm the reality of the condition.

Boston Globe - June 16, 1958

Posted By: Alex - Mon Nov 07, 2022 - Comments ()
Category: Health, Mental Health and Insanity

Asneezia

In a 1985 report published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, Dr. G.D. Shukla brought a new condition to the attention of the medical community — the inability to sneeze. He named this 'Asneezia'. The sufferers were 'Asneezics'. His original article is behind a paywall, but a summary from Brain/Mind Bulletin is below:

Brain/Mind Bulletin - July 1990



Later correspondents to the British Journal of Psychiatry were skeptical. One questioned whether Shukla's patients really suffered from this condition, or if they were simply delusional. Another proposed verifying the reality of Asneezia by exposing patients to "the most noxious inhalant allergen."

Posted By: Alex - Fri Oct 21, 2022 - Comments (2)
Category: Health, Psychology

The Health Dangers of Sleeping on a Hartmann Line

My Great Aunt recently died at the age of 100. Throughout her life she was very much into alternative medicine, and she kept hundreds of newsletters from various alt-health practitioners. Most of them aren't particularly interesting, but while going through her stuff I've found a few oddities, such as a 1990 newsletter warning of the danger of sleeping on Hartmann Lines.

I'd never heard of Hartmann Lines. Wikipedia describes them as "a scientifically unproven grid of invisible energy lines of the Earth's inherent radiation".

But how to know if you're sleeping on a Hartmann line? Well, if you've got a cat and it likes to sleep in your bed, you may be in trouble because apparently cats love sleeping on Hartmann lines. (I'm in trouble!)

I've posted a few snippets from the newsletter below, and also uploaded the full newsletter as a pdf file.







Posted By: Alex - Tue May 24, 2022 - Comments (4)
Category: Health, Patent Medicines, Nostrums and Snake Oil, Cats

An unusual rectal foreign body

An article recently published in the International Journal of Surgery Case Reports describes the case of an unusual foreign body (a dumbbell) removed from a patient's rectum. It also provides a brief overview of the phenomenon of unusual foreign bodies that end up in rectums:

Retained rectal objects are a rare complaint in the emergency department, but an increasingly important occurrence in recent years. A Caribbean study conducted in hospitals over 5 years revealed an incidence of approximately 0.15 cases per 100,000 population/year, but exact frequency data is not known. Despite being a problem that affects both genders, in the literature consulted there is a predominance of males, at a ratio of 28:1 to females, more specifically white men between 20 and 40 years old, having practices of sexual gratification as the greatest motivation. A huge variety of rectal objects have been described, with a greater predominance of those of a sexual nature, followed by glass objects, which should be handled with greater care due to their fragility and risk of injury if broken.

Posted By: Alex - Sat Apr 23, 2022 - Comments (1)
Category: Health, Surgery, Sex Toys

Hit Hand, Regained Sight

June 1955: Peter Barr struck the palm of his left hand with his right fist to stress a point while arguing with his wife. And suddenly he was able to see again. He had been completely blind for three years.

London Daily Telegraph - June 3, 1955



Other cases of accidental cures we've previously posted about:

Posted By: Alex - Sat Apr 16, 2022 - Comments (2)
Category: Health, 1950s, Eyes and Vision

Pneumonia Blouse

In the early twentieth century, women began wearing low-necked, gauzy blouses. Conservative critics branded them "pneumonia blouses" — warning that they would cause the women wearing them to catch pneumonia.

More info: Jonathan Walford's blog

Example of a pneumonia blouse
Source: Holly Vogue Vintage



I often see young women out and about, dressed completely inappropriately for the cold weather, suffering for the sake of fashion. So the spirit of the pneumonia blouse seems to be alive and well, if not the specific style.


Victorian to Vamp: Women's Clothing 1900-1929, by Paula Jean Darnell



University Daily Kansan - Mar 18, 1920

Posted By: Alex - Sat Feb 05, 2022 - Comments (3)
Category: Fashion, Health, 1900s

The Artesian Tree

I can find no fuller account of this miracle. No doubt it was bulldozed long ago.

ADDENDUM: I just did the obvious and visited the address given via Google Streetview. No sign of the fabled tree, alas. See screenshot in extended.





More in extended >>

Posted By: Paul - Sat Jan 15, 2022 - Comments (4)
Category: Health, Regionalism, Natural Wonders

The Patented Carrot Rectal Dilator

In 1927, the Canadian patent office granted an unusual patent (CA 259317) to George L. Kavanagh. It was unusual because, while most patents describe some new type of gadget or gizmo, Kavanagh's invention simply consisted of a method of using a carrot.

The problem Kavanagh had set out to solve was that of constipation in the elderly. The way he saw it, our rectums tend to grow more inelastic and shrunken as we age, and this leads to constipation. The solution, he concluded, was "gently dilating the anus and rectum until the organs are restored to their youthful size."

But what could be used as a dilator? Preferably something inexpensive and readily obtainable. That made him think of carrots.

A summary from his patent:


An added benefit of carrots, he noted, was that they come in a variety of different sizes. This would allow one to start with small carrots and work up to larger ones "until the desired result is obtained."

Unfortunately, Kavanagh submitted no drawings with his patent. But I did find a chart that provides a size comparison of different types of carrots, which could be potentially useful for anyone who wants to try out Kavanagh's method at home on an elderly relative.

image source: 123rf.com



Update: Kavanagh also got a US Patent (No. 1,525,505) for his invention.

Posted By: Alex - Wed Nov 24, 2021 - Comments (3)
Category: Health, Inventions, Patents, Vegetables, 1920s

Device to prevent mouth breathing

In 1920, Richard Jefferies was granted a patent for "a simple and practical device which will eliminate the habit of breathing through the mouth and at the same time will assist in harmonizing the facial features of the wearer, by more evenly balancing the muscles of expression."

His invention consisted of a piece of adhesive-backed silk placed over the mouth.



I was vaguely aware that mouth breathing is considered a bad habit, but I wasn't aware that "mouth taping" continues to be a common remedy for it.

For instance, one can buy SomniFix Sleep Strips, which look like they're a slightly updated version of Jefferies' invention.

Posted By: Alex - Wed Oct 27, 2021 - Comments (1)
Category: Health, Inventions, Patents, 1920s, Face and Facial Expressions

Mask for smokers

Back in 1919, Edward T. Duncan solved the problem of how to smoke and wear a mask at the same time.

Smoke if you want to, even though you wear an influenza mask. Corn plasters fitted to the mask, inside and out, supply the necessary hole.

Popular Science Monthly - May 1919



The only modern near-equivalent I can find is a mask that jokes about having a "smoke hole," without actually having one.

Posted By: Alex - Fri Aug 20, 2021 - Comments (1)
Category: Health, Smoking and Tobacco, 1910s

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Alex Boese
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction, science-themed books such as Elephants on Acid and Psychedelic Apes.

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Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.

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