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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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The Possibility of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

The Possibility of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

(p.167) 28 The Possibility of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
Darwin's Illness

Ralph Colp Jr. M.D.

University Press of Florida

In 1997, D. A. B. Young published an article suggesting that Charles Darwin's illness was caused by systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). As evidence for this suggestion, Young gave a table that divided more than thirty of Darwin's symptoms into the categories “Gastrointestinal”, “Cutaneous”, and “Other”. On comparing these symptoms with corresponding ones in SLE patients, Young argued that the two illnesses were similar in practically all ways. This chapter questions the validity of many of these similarities, and it assesses some of Young's arguments. To facilitate this discussion, it divides the symptoms of the illnesses into the categories used by Young and then briefly indicates and compares their individual clinical characteristics and their congruities and incongruities. In general, comparison of Darwin's prominent other symptoms with the prominent symptoms of SLE indicate that there are many qualitative and quantitative differences between these two groups of symptoms and therefore that Darwin's illness and SLE are two separate diseases.

Keywords:   Charles Darwin, D. A. B. Young, systemic lupus erythematosus, gastrointestinal symptoms, cutaneous symptoms

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