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The experience of looking at The Sick Rose, which is a well-curated print presentation of pictures that are freely accessible digitally on the Wellcome Images site, raises questions about historical medical images, and when and in what media it's proper to look at them. It is one thing to take a beautifully bound book aside into a silent armchair and have a one-on-one encounter with all with a dignified man with a bulbous, untreated pendant tumour, or the face of an infant wizened by tertiary syphilis. It's another to see the exact same faces flit by on Pinterest, Tumblr, or Twitter, in a jumble of other unrelated pictures and detached from Barnett's context -supplying scholarship.
The Sick Rose is formed by afflictions, the majority of which are now rare in the Western world: cholera, tuberculosis, gout, advanced stages of syphilis. Online, the patients' suffering runs the risk of being seen as classic"---nearly funny in its dreadful extremity and its distance from our own time. In a blog post about the procedure for assembling and after promoting The Sick Rose, Barnett acknowledged to a feeling of unease" about sending the images off into the whole world, worrying about the kitsch, understanding, and emptily ironized attitude" that could greet the pictures. (When Wired ran a slideshow of photos from Sick Rose in May, for instance, it was headlined Awesomely Gross Medical Illustrations From the 19th Century") Over Skype, Barnett told me: These are all pictures of something that happened to someone somewhere. They're not visualized."
As historic medical pictures go archivists, scholars and digital are being forced to consider the advantages of disseminating the unquestionably important and fascinating record of the progression of medical practice with matters that the pictures will soon be misunderstood and misused. Making the pictures available will almost certainly lead to some tone-deaf uses and aspect at best---using the shock value of an at body disfigured face or worst. On the flip side, digitization of the kinds of pictures that were once available only to researchers with the means to travel to archives can do a lot of good. Such visibility can raise awareness about previous wrongs, facilitate the families of former patients as well as connections between historians , even supply us with a new method to consider our own mortality. (Because there are excellent arguments on both sides, and because these medical images may be upsetting to some readers, we have decided to place the photographs we're printing with this specific post behind a digital scrim, allowing you, the reader, to choose whether to see them.)
Here's one instance that demonstrates how much such digitized photos can slip from their contexts. Art historian Suzannah Biernoff has written about the destiny of a group of patient images from the Gillies Archives These are the World War I-era records of Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup, in the U.K., where plastic surgeon Harold Gillies headed a specific unit treating injuries that needed maxillofacial surgery. Gillies commissioned artists and photographers to record his patients' presurgical harms, using the pictures to plan his team's approach.
These photos ended up on the Web as part of a mid-2000s exhibit titled Project Faade (now archived via the Wayback Machine ). The project, which was funded by the Wellcome Trust's SciArt Production Award, was a collaboration among artist Paddy Hartley; Dr. Andrew Bamji, a rheumatologist who acts as curator of the Gillies Archives; and Dr. Ian Thompson, a surgeon and designer of facial implants. The visuals that Hartley made with inspiration from these archives later formed the basis of an exhibition at the National Army Museum in London. The project, Hartley writes on his web site , was meant to explore the effect of veterans' wartime injuries and following facial surgeries on their lives.
After the exhibit had closed, but the digital images had another life. Some photographs from the Job Faade archive ended up used in the design of the genetic mutants (splicers") that players of the videogame BioShock must battle. One of many patients in the photographs, Henry Lumley, a pilot trainee, lived with his harm for a year and was injured on the day of his graduation from flying school before being declared to Gillies' attention. Lumley died at age 26, of postoperative complications. (Here's his page on the Project Faade website And here's an image of the BioShock character in question) Lumley and his fellow patients are now compelled to wander about in virtual space, made into monsters for the amusement of gamers.
Std Test nearest Countryside. Does this issue, given that many (most?) BioShock players will never know who these guys were in real life? Biernoff writes that British culture during the World War I perceived departure in battle as glorious, but facial mutilation was seen as virtually black---a fate worse than death"---and images of soldiers injured in this manner were censored, lest they decrease morale. So even if gamers never realize the characters they are seeing on screen were once actual men, it can nevertheless feel when they are trotted out as digitized monsters like these guys, ostracized in life, are being wronged again. Countryside, KS, United States Std Test. As Wellcome Library archivist Natalie Walters pointed out in a post on the connection between BioShock and the Gillies Archive: That nearly 100 years later similar images are used to frighten people in a computer game, gives us a glance into what life must have been like for folks who endured such disfiguring injuries." (She includes: How courageous these guys were to let themselves to be photographed with extensive injuries, and to get treatments that often made them look worse before they seemed better.")
Std Test nearby Countryside. Dr. Andrew Bamji, the Gillies Archives' curator, told me over email that he approached the game's developers after finding out about this use and succeeded in contacting one. I pointed out that the usage of identifiable men in the circumstance of the game was an appalling way to heal the memory of veterans," Bamji wrote. He apologized and assured me that no additional such pictures would be used, and there the matter ended." Where they were disassociated from the names and stories of the patients, and Hartley's Project Faade Bamji drew a clear distinction between the use of such images in a job like BioShock. Std Test near Kansas. I don't have any problem with all the display of images in a historic context, as without this people don't comprehend what war can do."
Should we restrict accessibility to upsetting digital images to folks who we can be sure will perceive them in appropriate context? Michael Sappol , a historian at the U.S. National Library of Medicine who has written about historic and contemporary medical display, has an argument to the contrary. The NLM's digital groups have lately posted a series of quiet medical movies from between 1929 and 1945 , a few of which symbolize what Sappol calls hard issues": leprosy, electroshock, schizophrenia. Sappol mentions, in particular, this 1929 movie made at Cook County Hospital in Chicago , which shows four children that are dying of rabies. The patients convulse, fight, bleed from the mouth; they're inconsolable, even as gloved adult hands reach from off screen to hold them or offer them water.
Sappol does not think it should be the occupation of the librarian or archivist to determine that the people can't handle looking at pictures that are such. We're stewards of these historical materials," he told me. They do not belong to us. They belong to everybody. ... I would not like to act on behalf of the areas and arrogate to myself the job of being some kind of officer of 'who can view.' " With the NLM's electroshock therapy films from the 1930s, Sappol says, Some of the folks in this movie ... appear like they definitely don't consent to the procedure, and it's upsetting to see. I could say 'This person doesn't want to be on camera, they're being humiliated.' But this is something we can learn from. If we never get to see this, who gets to understand?" The curiosity we feel about such images, he contends, is not shameful, but merely human.
The problem is further complicated by the fact that a few subjects favor visibility. This is the situation with all the Thalidomide Trust archive, which contains medical case files on people born withsevere birth defects after their mothers took the drug thalidomide to alleviate symptoms of morning sickness in the late 1950s-early-1960s," Wellcome archivist Helen Wakely wrote to me. The viewpoints of thalidomiders themselves on what should happen with their case files fluctuate widely, but some definitely need their files and pictures made accessible for research as a deliberate action to open up disagreement."Of course, there's not any way to ask the patients whose bodies appear in The Sick Rose whether they'd prefer to be seen or stay concealed. Nevertheless, the modern case of thalidomide shows that we shouldn't assume that publication is tantamount to infringement.
Nor should we presume the Web is a serious medium than the bound-and- printed book. Historian Miriam Posner, who wrote her dissertation on medical filmmaking, is also a digital historian committed to making her sources publicly available. Countryside, KS Std Test. In 2010, Posner posted about the ethical quandary she faced when requested to collaborate with a producer at NPR's show Science Friday on a slideshow of lobotomy photos. Neurologist Walter Freeman, who carried out more than 3,500 of the procedures, photographed and filmed his patients before and after their surgeries.
But Posner ultimately went ahead with the Science Friday slideshow, reasoning that by asking audiences to choose a second look at the before" images of patients, which Freeman presented for his own purposes as broken," she may have the capacity to show that these faces contain more options than Freeman ever saw." A commenter on the place of Posner wrote that he had lately learned that his grandfather, lobotomized and who he had never met, had been institutionalized in West Virginia. The commenter wrote: I have not seen an image of my grandfather, never and I don't care if it's a picture of him having this done I need and only desire to see a picture of him so MUCH. Can you tell me how to get to these archives?" If Posner hadn't gone ahead with Science Friday, it might have been much harder for the commenter to locate her; the connection mightn't have been made. Std Test near Countryside.
Finally, there's a religious argument for making such images available. KS United States std test. Even if medical pictures may be misused, Michael Sappol says, I do not need that chance to prevent these things that are really amazing documents of the human encounter from being seen. ... We can learn from them, they are able to redeem us in some way. They could supply us with some type of program of human suffering. ... Looking at them makes life richer and deeper." Barnett, despite his misgivings, agrees on this particular point: There is a power behind these pictures, there's a power they have over us, and we have to recognize or honor this at some point." He compares the pictures to a secular vanitas ," referring to the 17th century Dutch paintings of skulls and other symbols of decay that were meant to remind the viewer of human mortality. For modern viewers, Barnett says, images like those in the Sick Rose might remind us: This is the body, and the conclusion that we all come to."
Still, a vanitas requires space for contemplation---a space the Web looks ill to offer. Susan Sontag's final book, Regarding the Pain of Others (2003), was composed as the Web was in the process of scattering photos to the four winds. Sontag wrote that photos of suffering might be a memento mori " and function as a still point around which to contemplate mortality. But she wondered how this might work---or fail to work---in a modern society," where space reserved for being serious is difficult to come by." One wonders what she may have made of Pinterest if she thought that about publications, art galleries, and television.
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BTW I've also been suffering from red & swollen foreskin (area near the underside of glans / frenulum region) with occasional paper cuts since 1.5 years - especially after class. Have done all negative although tests for fungi & STD. Have been trying creme against fungi and steroid cortisone but nothing has helped. Std test in Kansas United States. Now I am guessing it could be genital psoriasis as the description of this desiese is very close to my symptoms. Already discussed with my doctor about this and I'll get an appointment with a dermatologist - shortly.
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