Bedlam: The Real Horror Story Asylum

If you were to visit the Bethlem Royal Hospital circa the 15th Century, it would look like a scene out of American Horror Story. Bethlem was the only institution in Europe that handled society’s “rejects”–namely the mentally or criminally ill–for the vast majority of European history.

It did not, however, treat patients with a kind and affirming hand. Quite the opposite happened: patients were subjected to horrendous cruelty, experimentation, neglect and humiliation — all of which was entirely socially acceptable up until the 20th century.

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Why The History of Measles (And Vaccines) Matters Today

Measles Crochet

Source: Etsy

Though the history of measles stretches across centuries, a recent measles outbreak at Disneyland has re-ignited interest in the illness. This brief history of measles (and vaccines) will give you a little perspective on just how far we’ve come, and what’s at stake as pseudoscientific arguments gain traction.

Physicians learned how to identify and diagnose measles between the third and ninth centuries. In the years that followed, measles would continue to spread around the world, aided by well-traveled explorers. Christopher Columbus and his comrades introduced many diseases to indigenous populations who lacked a natural immunity to them. In fact, measles (along with other illnesses like smallpox, whooping cough, and typhus) was responsible for wiping out as much as 95 percent of the Native American population.

Christopher Columbus Reaches America

Christopher Columbus lands in the Americas. Source: Wikipedia

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The 1918 Flu Pandemic: History In Photos

1918 Flu Pandemic Table Fold

Source: CNN

According to the numbers provided by the U.S. Department of Justice, over five million souls died in WWI, excluding prisoners of war or missing persons. This is admittedly an incredibly high number, but it pales in comparison to the estimated 50 to 100 million more people the world over who lost their lives to the especially virulent influenza pandemic of 1918.

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Can Marijuana Cure Epilepsy?

With Oregon, Washington, and D.C. legalizing marijuana in this week’s midterm elections, weed and its place in society has been on a lot of people’s minds. It’s not just for looking cool in your freshman dorm, or showing your parents that they should’ve come to more little league games anymore–it’s also a viable medical treatment for disorders like epilepsy.

Current treatments for severe epilepsy are brain surgery, invasively implanted electric stimulation devices, and medications whose side effects can include huge drops in the number of white blood cells and platelets in the body, problems with the liver and pancreas, aplastic anemia, and even liver failure. In other words, what little relief these treatments might provide to epileptics is obscured by their side effects.

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