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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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“Violent Fatigues,” Bad Lips, and Unwell Hands

“Violent Fatigues,” Bad Lips, and Unwell Hands

(p.3) 1 “Violent Fatigues,” Bad Lips, and Unwell Hands
Darwin's Illness

Ralph Colp Jr. M.D.

University Press of Florida

When Charles Darwin was between fifteen- and twenty-two years old, he was omnivorous of life and eagerly participated in many activities with friends and relatives. He also suffered from three kinds of disturbances to his health. The first kind was “violent fatigues”: episodes consisted of trembling, chills, shivering, and a gastrointestinal disorder of an unspecified nature. These occurred in varying intensities, durations, and combinations, and they were followed by periods of fatigue, lasting for varying lengths of time, which Darwin referred to as being “knocked up”. Darwin's second kind of ill health was a recurring skin disorder on his lips and hands. Herbert described the disorder, many years later, as “an eruption about the mouth”. Darwin's third disturbance of health was numbness of his hands. He regarded his health as excellent because the interruptions resulting from his violent fatigue, lip eruption, and hand paresthesia were short and temporary.

Keywords:   Charles Darwin, violent fatigues, lip eruption, hand paresthesia, health, skin disorder

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