Article ID: CBB001320462

Retrodiagnoses: Investigating the Ills of Long-Dead Celebrities (2012)


The murky circumstances of Vladimir Lenin's death have made it popular among medical history sleuths. The most recent group to take it on was the 19th annual Historical Clinicopathological Conference (HCPC) in May. The HCPC examines cases of historical celebrities who suffered from mysterious ailments, such as Ludwig van Beethoven, Christopher Columbus, and King Herod. Diagnosing ancient emperors and explorers may seem an eccentric pursuit for doctors---the "patients" have long since died---but the HCPC is hardly alone. The quest to retrodiagnose dead celebrities has proved irresistible to doctors for over a century---although some historians wish that doctors would stop trying to revise history and let the dead rest in peace. Some also dismiss the work as unilluminating and note that DNA testing of the dead can cause distress among living descendents.

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Authors & Contributors
Löwy, Illana
Feest, Uljana
Sturm, Thomas
Little, Lester K.
Wright, David
Longsworth, Polly
Social History of Medicine
Medizinhistorisches Journal
Erkenntnis: International Journal of Analytic Philosophy
Past and Present
Perspectives in Biology and Medicine
Journal of Interdisciplinary History
Oxford University Press
Miami University
Manchester University Press
Amsterdam University Press
Historical method
History of medicine, as a discipline
Disease and diseases
History of science, as a discipline
Down, John Langdon Haydon
Dickinson, Emily
Singer, Charles Joseph
Hildegard Von Bingen, Saint
Foucault, Michel
Sudhoff, Karl
Time Periods
21st century
20th century, late
19th century
20th century
20th century, early
Great Britain
Latin America

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