. First, Do No Harm

Michael Brian Schiffer

in Draw the Lightning Down

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2003 | ISBN: 9780520238022
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520939851 | DOI:
. First, Do No Harm

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This chapter illustrates that electrotherapists treated patients with electrical devices in clinical medicine. It specifically considers medical electricity in relation to other medical therapies commonly employed in the late Enlightenment. The appliances perfected for shock treatments were sometimes quite imaginative. Perhaps the most common was a pair of metal conductors, called directors, which had glass insulating handles. The availability of electrical machines suitable for medical use in most instrument shops opened opportunities for electrical entrepreneurs. Many people having scant acquaintance with electricity began to practice electrotherapy, often alongside their previous professions. Reverend John Wesley obtained electrical machines and offered treatment during a specific hour daily. Dr. James Graham's treatment rooms and electrical devices were a unique and colorful part of eighteenth-century electromedicine. The activities of electrotherapists penetrated deeply into Enlightenment societies, touching—and sometimes improving—countless lives.

Keywords: electrotherapists; medical electricity; clinical medicine; shock treatments; electrical machines; Reverend John Wesley; Dr. James Graham; electrotherapy

Chapter.  10434 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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