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Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: His Complete Writings and Beyond

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Historical Newspaper Articles

From the New York Tribune.

We copy the following operation for the removal of a polypus from the nose from the [?] number of the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal. We of course know nothing about the matter beyond the facts furnished by highly intelligent and respectable witnesses. And this particular case is written by a most unwilling witness. In the mean time, as the attention of physicians is drawn to the subject and become more emboldened by a few fearless examples, to speak out in regard to a topic on which they are met by ridicule and not by argument, the number of these cases seems to accumulate.

There are now recorded the extirpation of a breast at Paris by Sules Cloquet, one by Drs. Hamard and Oudet, at Paris and one by Prof. Ducas at Savannah, the removal of a diseased bone from the jaw by Dr. Charlton at the Melville hospital, Chatham, Eng., the divisions of tendons by Dr. Engledue of Southsea, an amputation of the thigh by Dr. Ward at the Wellow hospital, Nottinghamshire, Dr. Tasswell’s operation of the same character performed on Mary Ann Lakin at Leicester, Eng., the amputation of a leg by Dr. Jones, at Bangor, Me., the extirpation of tonsils by Dr. Bodinier at Paris, and the removal of a tumor from the neck by the same gentleman in New York. All these cases are well attested by creditable witnesses, and if any one wants an explanation of the matter they must go elsewhere for it—we merely give the facts.

Painless Surgery.

To the Editor of the Boston Medical and
Surgical Journal.

DEAR SIR:—Additional to the accounts of like results, that have lately reached us from various quarters, an experiment has dragged me into being a witness of the particulars that are hereby detailed to you, as follows, for what they are worth, attending the removal, in July, 1844, a polypus from the nose of a patient in the mesmeric condition. I give this name to the condition she was in, for want of a better one—but names are of little consequence, the facts only (from notes taken at the time) being intended to be regarded. The patient came from Montville, 14 miles distant, to Belfast, for the purpose of having me operate. She was a very respectable woman, of mild disposition and manners, of considerable energy and activity, fair complexion, about 24 years of age, married, had one child, was a person of good constitution, and to every appearance healthy at the time. The tumor was of an oblong—rounded form, largely attached base, probably half an inch in its smallest diameter, and had been there three months.—The base was larger proportionally than the average of cases within my experience, and so firmly adhered, that in removing it I was obliged to tear it away in pieces. I had lain out my instruments and was about proceeding in the operation, when she proposed to be magnetized if it was possible, as she dreaded the pain that would have to be borne; and as she was entirely unacquainted in town, at her request I procured the attendance of a gentleman who had the reputation of being a good magnitzer (Mr. P. P. Quimby,) although entirely faithless on my own part, as I told her at the time as well as others before, who had asked what I thought of animal magnetism. I am quite confident that the lady and Mr. Quimby had never met before, and that there was nothing previously concerted. I am also confident that she took no medicine to induce stupor. In ten minutes after commencing, she was put into a state of apparently natural sleep, sitting upright in her chair, breathing and pulse natural—color of countenance unchanged. We then moved her from the back part of my room, where she happened to be sitting, to a window, for light. Mr. Q. then asked her if she felt well. She answered distinctly, yes. I immediately, (in the presence of several of our most noted citizens, who had been called in at their own request,) began to remove the polypus and did it thouroughly, scraping the sides of the nostrils repeatedly with the forceps so as to be sure that I had removed all the remaining fragments. There was some hemorrhage, say nearly an ounce of blood. I was operating four or five minutes at least. During the whole time, she evinced not the slightest symptom of pain, either by any groaning, sighing or motion whatever, but was in all respects precisely like the dead body. I felt convinced that I might as well have amputated her arm. The circumstance that struck me at the time most singularly of all, was this: as soon as the blood began to run down the fauces, there was a slight, rough, rattling sound of the breathing. One of the bystanders said, she is choking to death. Mr. Q. hawked and spit repeatedly, when she did the same, and spit the blood out of her mouth. In about ten minutes after, she was awaked, but said that she was unconscious that any thing had been done, complained of no pain, and found that she could now breath freely through her nose, that had been entirely closed up for several preceding months.

Yours, very sincerely,
A. T. WHEELOCK, M. D.

Belfast, Me., April 19, 1845

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