Morbid Fact Du Jour For April 26, 2017

Today’s Tall Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

When Robert Wadlow was born in February 1918 in Alton, Illinois, he was a bouncing, though very average-sized baby, 20 inches long and weighing in at eight pounds and six ounces. But shortly after his birth, he developed hyperplasia for the pituitary gland and began to grow at a phenomenally accelerated rate. At six months he was thirty pounds, and when he began to walk at eleven months he was the size of a five-year-old. At the age of eight, Wadlow was taller than his five-foot, eleven-inch father and had to have a special school desk made for him. And he kept on growing.

Wadlow graduated from high school and from Shurtleff College, with an eye toward attending law school. But in the mid-1930’s, he took a break to do a few tours with the Ringling Brothers’ Circus, and with the company which custom-made his size 37AA shoes.

Wadlow’s health was fragile due to his extreme, rapid and uncontrollable growth, and he needed leg braces to be able to walk. He had reduced sensation in his legs and feet, and in July of 1940 a misfitted brace rubbed a blister on his ankle. Because he also suffered from autoimmune problems, the minor injury became infected. Despite a blood transfusion and surgery, Wadlow’s health continued to deteriorate, and he died in his sleep on July 15, 1940. He was 22 years old and had been measured at 8 feet, 11.1 inches tall weeks before his death. Incredibly, even during his final, terminal illness, Wadlow was still growing. He holds the record of being the tallest human being who ever lived of which there is irrefutable evidence.

Culled from: Wikipedia
Submitted by: Aimee

 

He’s a Melancholy Man

In the Library Eclectica, I have a book entitled The Faces of Madness: Hugh W. Diamond and the Origin of Psychiatric Photography (edited by Sander L. Gilman), 1977.  It contains a wonderful collection of photographs of asylum inmates taken in the 1850’s by pioneering medical photographer and psychiatrist Dr. Hugh W. Diamond, along with engravings that were made of them and used in teaching.  There are also several case studies by Dr. John Conolly (the leading British psychiatrist of the mid-nineteenth century) for some of the patients.  The portraits are beautiful and sad and the text reveals the psychiatric thought processes of the mid-19th century. 

Today we meet a Melancholy man; and, you will note, Dr. Conolly never met a period that he didn’t view with disdain; and, also, can you imagine what he might say about your own countenance were he to view your Facebook profile; further, I endeavor to change my Facebook profile intro statement to say, “The advancing shadow of the dullness of death rests upon me, never in this world to be withdrawn”.  

Without further adieu…

The subject of the illustration accompanying the present paper is one presenting the kind of solemn hopelessness arising out of long and unavailing efforts to keep just above poverty; and out of the diminution of nervous energy which becomes generally perceptible in the working man at his time of life. Probably both circumstances conjoined have brought him to this. He is sixty years old, and has all his life been a working gardener; sober in his habits, conducting himself well in the affairs of life, and reported to be of pleasant manners. But, although his occupation was one which a great authority declares to be the purest of human pleasures, and the greatest refreshment to the spirits of man, it could not ward off the invasion of slowly and obscurely working causes of decay. His power of being industrious died away; his pleasant manners left him; and some months since he fell unaccountably into a state of apathy or of vague despondency; his silence only broken by moaning and lamentation; and yet retaining a capability of making a rational reply to words directly addressed to him. The good form of the head; the shape, especially, of the anterior and upper head, and the submissive expression of the features, where we find no trace of violent passions or of evil habits, are distinctly marked. We read the clear impression the whole face of an honest man. But the eye is sunken into the socket; the grey hair hangs straight, as is usual in age; and, although he is not very far advanced in years, the withered frame and settled hopeless look, and the general expression and attitude; the drooping head, the sight unemployed on surrounding objects, the hands resting on the thighs, and the mental revelations of the eyelids, and of the forehead, and of the protruded under-lip; with the line drawn from the angle of the nose to the mouth, as well that line of age and care drawing down the corner of the mouth itself: all convey to the student of the human face, that, with failing nutrition hope has failed also; that the patient has come to a conclusion that insuperable trouble has fallen upon him, and that, ever meditating upon this, still he finds no way to escape. Dulness [sic], therefore, the advancing shadow of the dulness of death, rests upon him, never in this world to be withdrawn.

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