The Possibility of Crohn's Disease

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:
The Possibility of Crohn's Disease

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In 2007, two Chilean physicians, Fernando Orrego and Carlos Quintana, published an article criticizing all previous diagnoses of Charles Darwin's illness, including Chagas' disease. They argued that the illness was Crohn's disease. In their opinion, the diagnosis of Chagas' disease can be “easily discarded” because Darwin did not show the acute symptoms of early Chagas' nor its later chronic symptoms of myorcarditis, megaesophagus, and megacolon. It is thought that their discussion of Darwin's gastrointestinal symptoms gives a picture of Crohn's disease that is vague and inchoate, and it is also believed that they largely ignore the stresses on Darwin's health of his working on his controversial theory of natural selection. In contrast to the diagnosis of Crohn's disease, the diagnosis of Chagas' disease postulates that Darwin had an active infection of his stomach and intestine that became arrested after inflicting permanent injuries. As a result of these injuries, his sensitivity to becoming ill from various mental stresses, including stresses from his evolutionary ideas, was greatly increased.

Keywords: Charles Darwin; Fernando Orrego; Carlos Quintana; Crohn's disease; Chagas' disease; stomach; intestine; mental stresses

Chapter.  1521 words. 

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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