An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug, Cocaine


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Freud's psychological constitution was marked by multiple compulsions, perfectionism, risk taking resentments, loneliness, alienation, emotional pain, traumatic family experiences, phobias, neuroses, depression, denials and secretiveness about his sexuality, a possible sexual relationship with his sister-in-law, a brief flirtation with excessive drinking, and his self-documented cocaine abuse, to name some of his demons.

Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug Cocaine

What makes Sigmund Freud's life and work so remarkable is that instead of sinking under the weight of these psychic challenges, he was able to process them all through his formidable intellect and thereby create a means for exploring the depths of the mind. We get to see one of the early lights of modern medicine and psychiatry through his toughest professional times, when he wasn't a household name: his book only sells a few hundred copies in the first six years, he gets passive aggressive in correspondence to his wife because she's holding him back , he stunningly asserts and reasserts that cocaine is not addictive, he becomes irrationally jealous when ophthalmologist Carol Koller is credited with discovering cocaine's anesthetic properties, and drug abuse itself threatens to derail him at every turn.

Freud had a number of years wherein he treated morphine addiction by cocaine administration this in his early career as an aspiring neurologist and he himself was subjected to repeated nasal cauterization procedures to control swelling and bleeding from so much use of the latter. Much of the s seem to be spent draining large amounts of pus from his nasal turbinates. Halsted is actually the more fascinating character. He is institutionalized early in his career and treated unsuccessfully for cocaine dependence at Butler Hospital in New England. He proceeds to become the foremost surgeon at the nascent Johns Hopkins medical school and his irascible, often absent persona is given pardon because of his unparalleled surgical skill when he arrives to work, that is.

He is credited with the sterile technique of scrubbing in to a case, wearing gloves and gown during surgery gloves from the Goodyear rubber corporation are the subject of a fantastic anecdote and his future wife , and he trains some of the fathers of modern surgery in the late 19th century.

The form and function of the surgical residency, something about which I know a great deal, was given first shape under Halsted's wing. And biographers have continued to deny his drug use throughout history. The comination of these two mens' tales makes for a powerful narrative, and Markel seems to fall in the sympathetic column of medical historians. Plus their tale is the more interesting because of reader context - cocaine is merely wicked and evil and its users deadbeats, or so we are taught to believe.

Markel euologizes these men and their achievements in the face of such considerable vice. The level of notoriety and place in history achieved by Freud and Halsted is not available to the average coke-addict of today. That is something to celebrate. Jul 21, M rated it really liked it. I'm going to go ahead and give this four stars even though by the end I felt, as I often do when reading non fiction, that it got repetitive and draggy by the end. Anatomy is a well researched and well written if somewhat imaginative biography of cocaine as a drug as well as its impact on some of the finest minds in medicine.

Did you know cocaine was used as an anesthetic? Or that many stressed out moms were prescribed morphine? In short it;s a miracle that we all made it here today given what we I'm going to go ahead and give this four stars even though by the end I felt, as I often do when reading non fiction, that it got repetitive and draggy by the end.

An Anatomy of Addiction : Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug Cocaine

In short it;s a miracle that we all made it here today given what we now know about these drugs, and it makes me wonder what the next generations will be discovering about our current miracle pills. Addiction is pretty fascinating stuff, and it affecting the father of psychotherapy was particularly interesting. But I felt at times it was too detailed and confusing as to the many characters the book took on, and that certain things went unanswered - like how Freud was impacted on a daily basis by his addiction, which went on for over a decade!

Anyway I do recommend it, it;s highly readable and interesting, but I question its veracity and would have liked more hard core info. View 2 comments. Feb 11, Jennifer rated it liked it.

I enjoyed this way, way more than I thought I would. Markel is a wonderfully immersive writer, taking us inside the heads of two fascinating physicians and their dizzying spirals into addiction. I love that there's a voice to the narrative; I get a real sense that I'm being told a story by someone who's enraptured by the material he's found and can't wait to share it with us.

I like everything about it: the imagined dialogues, the fugues on the history of the coca plant, the scenes at the sa I enjoyed this way, way more than I thought I would. I like everything about it: the imagined dialogues, the fugues on the history of the coca plant, the scenes at the sanatorium.

"An Anatomy of Addiction": Sigmund Freud, cokehead

I am not really a history of medicine kind of person but this one is certainly at the top of its game. Sep 14, Rosanne rated it really liked it. A highly readable account of the cocaine abuse of Halstead and Freud at a time when the devastating harm cocaine could do to an abuser were not fully known. Towards the end of the book, when Halstead and Freud were no longer abusing drugs, or, in Halstead's case, no longer regularly abusing cocaine, Markel seems to go off on tangents and I found myself wondering what these little asides had to do with these doctors' drug abuse.

Overall, though, this was a great read that gave a high-level pictur A highly readable account of the cocaine abuse of Halstead and Freud at a time when the devastating harm cocaine could do to an abuser were not fully known. Overall, though, this was a great read that gave a high-level picture of addiction and what addiction meant for two prominent historical figures. Dec 16, Patricia rated it really liked it. I started this with great hesitation, but it was my Book Group choice for January.

I found it to be an interesting change from my usual choices. It is a little slow at the start, but becomes absorbing when you realize you are reading about giants of medicine, Freud, Halsted, Osler, and the era when cocaine was considered to be the miracle drug to cure all.

Not a book for everyone, but writ I started this with great hesitation, but it was my Book Group choice for January. Not a book for everyone, but written in a lighter tone than most medical histories, it is accessible to everyone. Dec 27, Pamela J rated it it was amazing Shelves: history , non-fiction-topical. Markel's well-crafted prose imparts knowledge, humor, and a surge of interest in the topic. His knowledge of medical history and its context is impressive. Interesting to think there was a time when cocaine use was not demonized, yet alcohol and opium were.

Everyone knows that the original Coca-Cola derived its magic from the eponymous leaves. But before Coke, there was vin Mariani.

An Anatomy of Addiction

Interesting portraits of late 19th century personas who liberally used and became addicted to cocaine: Freud- Wow. Interesting portraits of late 19th century personas who liberally used and became addicted to cocaine: Freud--who is rather insecure surprise, surprise Sep 24, Dave Biggus rated it it was amazing.

There's so much of this history I've never known about, or just incidentally. Howard Markel is an excellent historical writer, bringing together the beginning of commercial cocaine, and it's subsequent abuse by Freud and William Halsted responsible for many modern surgical techniques. It was a page turner from beginning to end.

Highly recommended. Nov 28, Ellen rated it really liked it. I found this book very, very interesting.

There was one grammatical error that I spotted but nonetheless, I felt as though I was learning a great deal more about Freud and early medicine than I expected. It is truly an interesting and informative book. It would be a good book for a nonfiction book club selection. Oct 31, Rhonda rated it really liked it.


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Fascinating, esp for me as a Johns Hopkins staff member, to know more of the "story behind the story" about these famous personages, both doctors. Since cocaine is still a huge problem in the city of Baltimore, it was also interesting to read about its history. This was actually a quick read, and left me wanting to know more about the lives of both Freud and Halsted. Jul 28, Stephanie rated it really liked it. Jul 18, Amos rated it really liked it. Fascinating read about the fathers of psychoanalysis and modern day surgery and their struggles with the brand new "wonder drug" cocaine.

Eye opening in many ways Nov 17, Sarah rated it really liked it Shelves: male-author , nonfiction , american-author , read-in A little repetitive in the opening chapters, but the look at two influential minds struggling with addiction is worth it. Sep 27, Elementary Particle rated it liked it.

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It was a good book albeit due to the lack of documents many aspects are just suppositions from my point of view. Nov 07, Samantha Stambaugh rated it really liked it Shelves: non-fiction , bio-true-story , real-issues , psychology , history. Very interesting read. Jul 24, Meg marked it as to-read Shelves: about-people , history. Aug 20, Joanne rated it it was amazing. This is not only an excellent book for understanding the disease of addiction but a great piece of history well researched. Aug 08, Sally Anne rated it liked it.

Book review: 'An Anatomy of Addiction' by Howard Markel - Los Angeles Times

The beginning is a little rough, writing-wise, but it smoothes out. A lively, interesting read, if not terribly deep. Aug 23, Stacia rated it really liked it Shelves: nonfiction , , biography-memoir. This was a fascinating book--well written, well researched. Oct 26, David rated it really liked it.

Who would have known? Sigmund a coke addict. Fascinating read. May 20, Lois rated it it was amazing. Seeing the devastation caused by the drug cocaine, which has led to the enslavement and death of so many, it is hard to think that its virtues as a miracle drug were once extolled by the medical profession. One became the father of psychoanalysis; the other, of modern surgery. Here is the full story, long overlooked, told in its rich historical context.

Passar bra ihop. Howard Markel. Anatomy of Addiction Howard Markel. Instead, like a good analyst, he merely points out possible connections. Halsted survived, and through the benevolence of a friend and protector, William Welch, who believed in his genius, became the first professor of surgery at the newly built Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. Once there, Halsted became a legendary medical innovator and a great, if feared and eccentric, teacher of other surgeons. Halsted was an active user of morphine and cocaine until the final days of his life.

Binges explained his frequent absences from Johns Hopkins, and he and those close to him arranged his life to keep his addiction in the dark while his professional life stayed at a remarkable level of performance. He and Freud never met, though their paths came teasingly close at various times in Paris and Vienna. Rather, this rich, engrossing book reminds us of the strangeness of even heroic destinies. About Us. Brand Publishing. Times News Platforms.

An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug, Cocaine An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug, Cocaine
An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug, Cocaine An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug, Cocaine
An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug, Cocaine An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug, Cocaine
An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug, Cocaine An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug, Cocaine
An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug, Cocaine An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug, Cocaine
An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug, Cocaine An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug, Cocaine
An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug, Cocaine An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug, Cocaine

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