Article ID: CBB952610782

Syndrome du jour: The historiography and moral implications of Diagnosing Darwin (2021)


Diagnosing Darwin's health problems has a long history. Innumerable diagnoses have been proffered in letters, articles, and a handful of dedicated books. Diagnostic speculation has exhibited contrasting somatogenic or psychogenic preferences. Psychogenic accounts dominated mid-century but were soon challenged by somatic explanations citing specific infectious or toxic aetiologies. This tension remains, although psychogenic accounts have tended to be swamped by an array of somatogenic diagnoses championed by biomedical specialists. As a whole, this parade of diagnoses has a striking syndrome du jour quality. Successive conjectures speak of the preoccupations and diagnostic fads of their particular age. Moreover, for many participants in this diagnostic game, unconscious presentism combined with self-serving projection, turning the question of what ailed Darwin into something of a Rorschach test. Never far from the surface was a sometimes-fraught tussle over the man's reputation, animated by the moral valences of the conjectures in play. In a broader sense, this diagnostic game has shaped biographical accounts of Darwin and his career in some significant ways.

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Authors & Contributors
Burke, Stacie
Close-Koenig, Tricia
Eder, Sandra
Grob, Gerald N.
Horwitz, Allan V.
Huertas, Rafael
Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science
Dynamis: Acta Hispanica ad Medicinae Scientiarumque Historiam Illustrandam
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences
History of Psychiatry
Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences
Journal of the History of the Neurosciences
Yale University
Bloomsbury Academic
Johns Hopkins University
Los Libros de la Catarata
McGill-Queen's University Press
McMaster University
Therapeutic practice; therapy; treatment
Disease and diseases
Medicine and society
Medicine and gender
Darwin, Charles Robert
Cohnheim, Julius Friedrich
Money, John
Wilkins, Lawson
Virchow, Rudolf Carl
Vygotskii, Lev Semenovich
Time Periods
19th century
20th century
20th century, early
21st century
17th century
18th century
United States
Great Britain

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