Wm Beaumont: tell us more

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From:"J. A. Kiernan" <jkiernan@julian.uwo.ca>
To:"Robert S. Richmond" <RSRICHMOND@aol.com>
Content-Type:TEXT/PLAIN; charset=US-ASCII

On Wed, 14 Jun 2000 RSRICHMOND@aol.com wrote:
> Peggy Wenk at the William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak MI (folks know who 
> William Beaumont was? Quite a story.) replies to a request for tissues for 
> the HT exam ...

  All who examine tissues should know about William Beaumont, the 
  original and trans-abdominal gastroscopist. I think you, Bob R,
  could tell the tale with authority and panache. Perhaps on your
  web page - and send a copy to HistoNet.

    As a medical student studying Physiology from Samson Wright's
    textbook (a masterpiece of entertaining and instructive writing)
    39 years ago, I was inspired to look Beaumont up in the library.
    There on the open shelves was a first edition of his book, with
    a (?hand-)coloured portrait of Alexis St Martin as the frontispiece.
    The preface included a magnanimous appreciation of the wounded
    soldier's (Civil War) voluntary and involuntary contributions
    to science. 

    This wasn't just the physiology of gastric secretion and digestion. 
    Beaumont showed that mental attitudes, feelings and reactions
    affected blood flow etc in an organ that was not, in the late 
    1800s, functionally associated with conscious thoughts. Oops!
    sorry, Bob. I'd better stop. You'll do it better, and probably
    I've not correctly remembered even these fragments of memories
    of Wm Beaumont and his patient. 

  Although they probably didn't fully conform to the modern notion 
  of informed consent, I think Beaumont's research and medical 
  ethics probably met much higher standards than those currently
  tolerated my professional bodies and licensing authorities. 
  I could say more, but will do so only if some lively discussion
  'nuff said!  Yours encouragingly,
 John A. Kiernan, MB, ChB, PhD, DSc,
 Department of Anatomy & Cell Biology,
 The University of Western Ontario,
 LONDON,  Canada  N6A 5C1

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