The Body of Frankenstein's Monster: Essays in Myth and Medicine

Cecil Helman, Author W. W. Norton & Company $19.95 (151p) ISBN 978-0-393-03104-1
These inquisitive essays are a strong antidote to modern medicine's tendency to treat the body as a machine. A physician, anthropologist and folklorist based in London, Helman undertakes poetic, cross-disciplinary forays for high-tech medicine's connections to myth, magic and metaphor. He relates the placebo effect to mesmerism, interprets the Frankenstein story as a harbinger of transplant surgery and reads an X-ray image as a white-branched Tree of Life. From medical models of premenstrual tension in which women are slaves of a cyclical moon, he moves on to consider moonstruck werewolves, Sasquatch, Yeti and women's long, flowing hair as a symbol of animality. Germ imagery in daily language (``an epidemic of muggings'') leads him to unravel a ``germistic way of thinking,'' which blames our misfortunes on external forces. A medically informed social critic, Helman sees the watch and the clock as central icons of a civilization in which ambitious ``type A personalities'' are rewarded for their ruthless behavior. (May)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1992
Release date: 01/01/1992
Open Ebook - 156 pages - 978-1-61640-641-7
Paperback - 156 pages - 978-1-931044-83-7
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