Friday, 5 June 2009

Birthing Rabbits

You'd think that the craziest stuff ever is happening in the modern world, but well, you'd be wrong. There's been amazing stuff going on for centuries. I love reading the Body Parts You've Never Heard Of column by Dr Adam Taor in the Weekend Australian. Sadly, I do think he's only ever come up with one bit that I'd never heard of. It's always Fascinating though, check it out. It is a bit buried, it's in the Health section which is at the back of the Professional section, which I would otherwise turf straight into the recycling with the sports and cars sections. Dissapointingly, it doesn't seem to be online. Any quest for enlightenment does involve some work.

I just read the column from 18/4/09 about the Pouch of Douglas. I'd never really thought about who Douglas was, but it turns out James Douglas was a Scottish Obstetrician in the early parts of the 18th century. Another of his claims to fame, apart from his eponymous pouch, was exposing Mary Tofts birthing of rabbits (yes rabbits!) as a hoax. You really wouldn't credit that it would take a team of experts to prove that a woman who delivered such objects as bits of rabbits lungs and a cats leg as well a loony, or attention seeker at the very least. Mary was apparently an illiterate maid who claimed that she was pregnant with rabbits, after craving roast rabbit during her previous pregnancy. She kept up her story and apparently produced multiple bits of mangled rabbits until she was threatened with exploratory surgery at which time she cleverly gave up the game. What can her motivations have been? Money? Fame? Infamy? A rather wobbly grasp on reality, and a lot of unfortunate bunnies?

There's quite a bit about her out there on the internet. She has her own page on wiki, and this is another interesting page with a picture of our Mary and a very scared rabbit.

I think she's become my new hero. At the very least it's a fantastic story. You never know where the next little fascinoma will pop up do you?


Sue T said...

I can think of worse heroines! Not a very good Wiki article though. Said she miscarried in August. Naming the month is a pretty useless piece of information unless you know when she was due ie whether it was a late or early miscarriage. Perhaps it was post-miscarriage (I guess that's still post-partum isn't it?) depression?

Anyhow, great story!

Phil said...

Apparently Fatal Attraction could have been much worse!

Thanks for the link. I'll link ya back.