In this chapter, I would like to focus on the exploration of pellagra as a new disease and the character of the medical debates that ensued. If pellagra in Italy can be characterised as a disease of the ‘long’ nineteenth century, this study will examine its first phase, from 1770 to 1815. There is no specifically medical history of pellagra in Italy. At least as regards the early phase, this chapter will attempt to fill this gap. I propose to explore what we can consider the three phases characterising reaction to the ‘new’ in late-eighteenth-century medicine, which will take us from that of the clinical history, through to the nosological ‘problem’ and end with aetiological polemics. The focus will be on debates over the cutaneous nature of pellagra as a key to investigation and understanding its causation and nosology. The extent to which the different authors considered the disease’s skin manifestations to be important will provide the focus. This is far from a history of linear progression, there being as much diversity of opinion in 1815 as there had been forty years earlier. Even when medical investigators had reduced the skin lesions to but a ‘stage’ of pellagra, by the mid nineteenth century, they continued to haunt the social construction of the disease, to the extent that the somewhat bizarre and confusing medical label ‘pellagra sine pellagra’, to refer to those cases where dermatitis was not manifest, had to be coined.

“Italic scurvy”, “pellarina”, “pellagra”: medical reactions to a new disease in Italy, 1770-1830

David Gentilcore
2013

Abstract

In this chapter, I would like to focus on the exploration of pellagra as a new disease and the character of the medical debates that ensued. If pellagra in Italy can be characterised as a disease of the ‘long’ nineteenth century, this study will examine its first phase, from 1770 to 1815. There is no specifically medical history of pellagra in Italy. At least as regards the early phase, this chapter will attempt to fill this gap. I propose to explore what we can consider the three phases characterising reaction to the ‘new’ in late-eighteenth-century medicine, which will take us from that of the clinical history, through to the nosological ‘problem’ and end with aetiological polemics. The focus will be on debates over the cutaneous nature of pellagra as a key to investigation and understanding its causation and nosology. The extent to which the different authors considered the disease’s skin manifestations to be important will provide the focus. This is far from a history of linear progression, there being as much diversity of opinion in 1815 as there had been forty years earlier. Even when medical investigators had reduced the skin lesions to but a ‘stage’ of pellagra, by the mid nineteenth century, they continued to haunt the social construction of the disease, to the extent that the somewhat bizarre and confusing medical label ‘pellagra sine pellagra’, to refer to those cases where dermatitis was not manifest, had to be coined.
A medical history of skin: scratching the surface
File in questo prodotto:
File Dimensione Formato  
Scratching the surface_final proofs_entire book.pdf

non disponibili

Tipologia: Documento in Pre-print
Licenza: Accesso chiuso-personale
Dimensione 1.85 MB
Formato Adobe PDF
1.85 MB Adobe PDF   Visualizza/Apri

I documenti in ARCA sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/10278/3725743
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus ND
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? ND
social impact