Chapter

Treatments from Father, Father's Death, Prolonged Vomiting, and Treatments from Dr. Gully with Hydropathy at Malvern

Ralph Colp Jr. M.D.

in Darwin's Illness

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print June 2008 | ISBN: 9780813032313
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813039237 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5744/florida/9780813032313.003.0006
Treatments from Father, Father's Death, Prolonged Vomiting, and Treatments from Dr. Gully with Hydropathy at Malvern

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Charles Darwin's 1842–45 letters to his Shrewsbury family reveal how he continued to depend on his father for advice, assistance, and medical treatment. During these years, Darwin's father remained in good health and spirits. However, he had periods of illness in 1846 and 1847. This caused Darwin to have accentuations of illness and to begin to realize that “Father's death [was] drawing slowly nearer & nearer”. From July 1848 through March 1849, he suffered from attacks of “violent vomiting”, that along with shivering, trembling, and languor were associated with a “swimming” head and black spots before his eyes. The apparent causes for these attacks were feelings of grief and loss over the loss of his father, and his work of classifying barnacles, which he found arduous, frustrating, time-consuming, and of questionable value. Darwin tried Dr. James Gully's hydropathy treatment. One reason for feeling stronger and less depressed, despite still vomiting, was that the Malvern treatments had “at once relieved” him of the nocturnal obsessions that interfered with sleep. As a result of the Malvern treatments, his health and mood improved in a variety of ways.

Keywords: Charles Darwin; death; violent vomiting; Dr. James Gully; hydropathy treatment; Malvern treatments; Shrewsbury

Chapter.  3744 words. 

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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