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Darwin's Illness$
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Ralph Colp Jr.

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780813032313

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813032313.001.0001

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Theories of Darwin's Doctors, and of Darwin

Theories of Darwin's Doctors, and of Darwin

(p.127) 16 Theories of Darwin's Doctors, and of Darwin
Darwin's Illness

Ralph Colp Jr. M.D.

University Press of Florida

There is no record of how Dr. Robert Darwin diagnosed Charles' illness. Some doctors were “puzzled” by the illness. Others viewed it as a form of dyspepsia: Dr. James Gully diagnosed it as “nervous dyspepsia”. Dr. Edward Wickstead Lane described it as “dyspepsia of an aggravated character”. George Busk thought it was “waterbrash”, whereas the British Medical Journal reported that Darwin had suffered from “catarrhal dyspepsia”. Dr. Henry Holland concluded that Darwin was suffering from a form of gout without joint inflammation, “nearer to suppressed gout”. Drs. William Brinton and William Jenner also suspected “suppressed gout”, and Dr. Andrew Clark found manifestations of a “gouty” state. For several doctors, these two diagnoses were related. Darwin came to believe that two causes for his illness were the ill effects of the Beagle cruise and heredity.

Keywords:   Charles Darwin, Beagle cruise, heredity, Dr. Robert Darwin, Dr. James Gully, Dr. Edward Wickstead Lane, Dr. Henry Holland, Dr. William Brinton, Dr. William Jenner, Dr. Andrew Clark

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