Railings Around the Tomb

Tomb 2 2017

Are the railings round the tomb to prevent body-snatchers and medical students getting in?

Or are they perhaps to prevent something Undead getting out?

For Halloween movie watching I recommend ‘City of the Dead’, first of many great horror films from my husband Milton Subotsky.

Diagnosing Dracula’s Renfield: Sanguine

Dr Seward described his strange patient Renfield as ‘sanguine’ – but what did he mean?

Lavater Sanguine
Lavater: Sanguine Physiognomy Wellcome Collection

‘Sanguine’ was the name of the ancient medical ‘humour’ supposedly related to an excess of blood. The associated temperament was active and cheerful, while the appearance or ‘physiognomy’ was as above.

Now Renfield was not always cheerful, although he could be, but he was certainly keen on consuming blood to maintain his liveliness.

Looking through the old Journals of Mental Science, it seems that when the doctors were describing one of their own brethren as ‘sanguine’ it meant ‘calmly optimistic’. When the term is used about a patient, it is usually someone with ‘General Paralysis of the Insane (GPI), presumably because of ‘grandiose delusions’.

Diagnosing Dracula’s Renfield: Lunacy

Hogarth’s Rakewell ends up in Bethlem

‘Lunacy’ was a term the medico-psychologists of the late nineteenth century were trying to change, as their studies seemed not to indicate an effect of the moon. The public, however, were not receptive. Dr Seward of ‘Dracula’ thought that somehow his pet patient Renfield was affected, although in a different way.

Three nights has the same thing happened, violent all day then quiet from moonrise to sunrise.

Seward did not realise at first that a vampire was involved…

Tom Rakewell, of Hogarth’s painting series ‘The Rake’s Progress’, had had too much nightlife (judging from his sinisterly syphilitic acquaintances) and his ensuing lunacy was thus probably General Paralysis of the Insane (GPI).

 

Childish Psychiatry Horror, 6. Peter

Stru Peter pic

Children’s hairstyles are often a source of trouble in schools, but I have only once been asked to intervene as a psychiatrist, although the boy’s hair was very long and beautifully cared for.

In the early nineteenth century Peter might have had ‘Plica Polonica’ (Polish Plait), supposed to be a disease caused by a demon which settled if the plait of neglected knotted hair full of lice eggs were allowed to grow, taking the illness with it. The condition largely disappeared in the nineteenth century when it became clear that lack of basic hair hygiene (washing, combing cutting) was the problem and rumours of a tax circulated.

 

 

Childish Psychiatry Horror, 5. Pauline

Pauline Picture1

Another terrible tale from Dr Hoffmann’s ‘Struwwelpeter’. And again Pauline (aka Harriet) disobeys, lights a match, and manages to set fire to herself.

Then how the pussy-cats did mew
What else, poor pussies, could they do?
They screamed for help, ’twas all in vain,
So then, they said, “We’ll scream again.
Make haste, make haste! me-ow! me-o!
She’ll burn to death,- we told her so.”

So she was burnt with all her clothes,
And arms and hands, and eyes and nose;
Till she had nothing more to lose
Except her little scarlet shoes;
And nothing else but these was found
Among her ashes on the ground.

fire4 D4D

A fiery blaze does not occur in the Dracula novel, apart from the Vampires’ eyes – but in the films it can be a wonderful effect as the horror director Roger Corman knew.

Childish Psychiatry Horror, 4. Conrad.

 

Conrad Suck-a-Thumb

Dear Readers, this maternal approach is certainly going to give Conrad a COMPLEX, and these days would be strongly advised against. Indeed the whole of ‘Struwwelpeter’ should be approached with extreme caution.

Needless to say the very word ‘not’ has the opposite of the desired effect, and the thumb goes in as soon as Mamma has turned her back. I fear this time I cannot spare you the consequences…

The door flew open, in he ran,
The great, long, red-legged scissorman.
Oh! children, see! the tailor’s come
And caught our little Suck-a-Thumb.

Snip! Snap! Snip! the scissors go;
And Conrad cries out – Oh! Oh! Oh!
Snip! Snap! Snip! They go so fast;
That both his thumbs are off at last.
Mamma comes home; there Conrad stands,
And looks quite sad, and shows his hands;-
“Ah!” said Mamma “I knew he’d come
To naughty little Suck-a-Thumb.

Childish Psychiatry Horror, 3. Philip

Fid Phil pic

We all know this little horror, who these days might be prescribed medication for his Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. He does not, of course obey his kindly Pappa’s instructions and continues:

See the naughty, restless child,
Growing still more rude and wild ,
Till his chair falls over quite.
Philip screams with all his might,
Catches at the cloth, but then
That makes matters worse again.

For the final and literal denouement, see https://germanstories.vcu.edu/struwwel/philippe.html