Sawbones: A Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine: Sawbones: The Cholera Riots
May 23, 2020 7:53 PM - Subscribe

Fear that the government and doctors were allied in a grand conspiracy to oppress the populace was at a fever pitch. The people took to the streets to prove that they would not abide by quarantine, that they would defy the powers that be and go on about their daily lives.The year is 1831. The disease is cholera.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis (3 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The mistrust of the medical establishment has meant different things in different times- in the past it was a fairly sensible thing as the medical establishment knew and promoted very stupid things. But it's not like the general populace knew much better. In 1831 cholera was a catch all term sometimes used just to mean diarrhea. But the medical establishment knew that while normal diarrhea could kill- the new cholera was a different beast, far deadlier than the normal one. They didn't know how it was spread, they just knew it did. So if a doctor suspected a patient had the "new" cholera, they were often brought to lazaretos instead of regular hospitals. Of course this was also happening in the age of "resurrection men" and very shortly after the arrest and trial of the infamous Burke and Hare. Hence riots. There were perhaps far more good reasons for the public to think that the medical establishment was killing instead of curing their patients than the loons in the modern day. It wouldn't be for many decades after these riots that the mechanism that spread the "new" cholera would be established and proven. Today of course, it is a disease that can be treated through oral or I.V. rehydration, and with modern plumbing is rarely seen in the developed world. But the urge to protest medicine is as old as medicine, and is often a product of ignorance- far more understandable in 1831 then today.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 8:01 PM on May 23, 2020

Biting the hand that feeds you is a pervasive human reaction. Any time someone offers to help there's a chance that help will be blamed as the cause of the problem.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:50 AM on May 25, 2020

Justin's self-chortle as he came up with the 5G joke was pretty satisfying.
posted by curious nu at 8:46 AM on May 25, 2020 [3 favorites]

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