THE ABUSE OF MAN: An Illustrated History of Dubious Medical Experimentation

Wolfgang Weyers, Author . Ardor Scribendi $35 (755p) ISBN 978-1-893357-21-1

From Ardor Scribendi, publisher of mainly medical books on dermatology but also on matters that transcend it, comes this massive and thorough review of a horrible subject: the systematic use and abuse of human beings as guinea pigs throughout the world from pre-Enlightenment times to the present day. Using the field of dermatology, "the most important in the history of unethical experimentation on human beings," Weyers (Death of Medicine in Nazi Germany), a dermatologist, painstakingly presents and discusses in depth—and in lucid and compelling prose—larger issues in medicine and society, such as Christianity's impeding of medical research for more than a thousand years; the rise of the idea of "patient's rights" in the Enlightenment; the development of the Nuremberg Code in 1947 regarding the ethical treatment of patients; and the rise in awareness of the ways minorities have been used as lab rats. Unfortunately, as Weyers notes, these issues came about because "for most of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries unethical experiments on humans were performed with hardly any resistance." He details a shameful list ranging from injections of potentially fatal drugs into orphans and the mentally ill during the 19th century to experiments on children performed well into the 1960s. Richly illustrated with photographs of the many doctors who were involved in dubious experiments, the book is a virtual "murderer's row" of horror. What remains most shocking are Weyers's many examples of unethical physicians who got away scot-free, such as those involved in the infamous Tuskegee syphilis study as well as the defendants at the lesser-known "second" Nuremberg Trial—the "Doctors' Trial" of 20 physicians who had participated in medical experiments during World War II. (July)

Reviewed on: 06/02/2003
Release date: 01/01/2003
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