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The galvanic treatment of deafness and the trials at the Berlin Royal Deaf-Mute Asylum in 1802.
2013 (English)In: European Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology, ISSN 0937-4477, E-ISSN 1434-4726, Vol. 270, no 6, p. 1953-8Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In 1802, the director of the Berlin Royal Deaf-Mute Asylum, Ernst Adolph Eschke, performed an experiment to investigate the possibility of curing deafness by means of galvanism. This article explores the hope for a cure for deafness that was connected to the voltaic pile, and concludes that the treatment was based on insufficient knowledge of the aetiology of deafness. Furthermore, it uncovers the competition between the medical and the pedagogic approach to deafness that resulted from the purported cure. Comparing the approaches of different directors of galvanic experiments, divergences in attitudes between the medical and pedagogic realms are revealed. This is explained with reference to the contrasting motives and experiences of educational and medical professionals: the former had reasons to resist a cure to protect their profession, whereas the latter hoped for a medical breakthrough. Since the former had personal and long-lasting relationships to deaf people, while the latter only had brief encounters with deaf patients, the physicians were also more prone to objectify their trial subjects. The report from Eschke's trials is presented as an early document of deaf reactions to attempts to restore their hearing, showing that resistance to medical interventions were prevalent among the deaf already in the early nineteenth century.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 270, no 6, p. 1953-8
National Category
Humanities and the Arts
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-344234DOI: 10.1007/s00405-012-2326-7PubMedID: 23283242OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-344234DiVA, id: diva2:1187815
Available from: 2018-03-06 Created: 2018-03-06 Last updated: 2018-03-07

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