4 Modern Medical Manuals With Insane AF Illustrations
Medical textbooks aren't for the faint of heart. From pictures of bloody organs, infected feet to countless Wound Men with their skin peeled off or ribcage cracked open, learning about the human body will make you wish you were as blind as the sliced-up eyeballs on page 145. But in some scientific volumes, the images are messed up in more ways than just as a cavalcade of curriculum carnage ...
Aliens Show You The Path To A Healthy Uterus In This Gynaecological Textbook
Anyone who has ever folded a tinfoil sheet into an ushanka has feared what would happen if they woke up on the operating table of a UFO. You might end up as a brain in a jar. Or have probes go into cavities no probe has gone before. But if you're very lucky, they'll just give you a pap smear and cure your yeast infection.
Not content to show us how to do fire and pyramids, it seems that aliens also needed to show us how to work a vagina. At least, that's what one would surmise from paging through Die Heilgymnastik in der Gynaekologie: und die mechanische Behandlung von Erkrankungen des Uterus und seiner Adnexe nach Thure Brandt, an 1895 gynecological textbook that depicts a series of uterine manipulation techniques to be applied to women. Did I say women? I meant androgynous '50s sci-fi aliens.
Written by gynecological guru Thure Brandt (which is definitely not what an alien would think a human name sounds like), Die Heilgymnastik in der Gynaekologie was a revolutionary manual on exercising the female genitals to achieve a healthy uterus. To illustrate these exercises, Brandt chose to forgo the typical human diagrams and instead insist on using stick figures drawn by a traumatized kindergartener. Most of the illustrations showcase these gangly Grey-looking humanoids doing gymnastic poses like they're limbering up for a Zumba class on Zemnia 5. Like this exercise, which is called, if my German is correct, the "freak of nature flailing around in existential pain."
Or this one, which is called the "necromancers helping a fresh zombie out of its grave."
But yonic yoga poses are only part of maintaining a healthy womb. The other is what Brandt called the "mechanical treatment of diseases of the uterus." Or should I say "manual treatment" as this technique relies heavily on clinical finger blasting.
This part of the manual sees two darker-looking extraterrestrials inserting their phone home fingers into the first visitor to administer pelvic physiotherapy. This includes "stroking the loins and sacral regions" of female patients, then inserting fingers to create "pressure combined with vibrating shaking." According to Brandt, this holistic technique could clear up all kinds of things such as uterine swelling, excessive bleeding, and whether or not you're a squirter.
But why not use drawings of healthy humans instead of these OBGYN otherworldly visitors? Published only a decade after the invention of the medical vibrator, perhaps Dr. Brandt was aware that his hysterical handjobs and c-word calisthenics would be looked at as another way to threaten Victorian women with a good time. A good way to compensate for this would be to use diagrams of asexual, unsexy Holocaust crash dummies. What his actual intentions are, we'll never know -- Thure Brandt died unexpectedly in the same year as his alien textbook was published.
The Anatomy Textbook That Looks Like A Playboy
The '60s were a simpler, dumber time for boys in college. Wearing blackface at frat parties was fine, affirmative action kept all the smart girls out, and if you got bored of the lectures, you could slip a dirty mag into the textbook and gawk at that instead. Until 1971, when the University of Duke put a stop to this injustice -- by putting the porno straight into the textbooks.
Crack open your college edition of 1971's The Anatomical Basis of Medical Practice, and you'd think you accidentally bought a Hustler omnibus. Instead of plain nude imagery, the book invites students to study human anatomy by staring at Playboy bunnies.
These boomer babes weren't mere cutouts from someone's hidden porn stash either. Softcore models were hired specifically to pose nude for these pictures. They were even captured by an actual Playboy photographer to best show off their' axillary folds.
And this wasn't some prank by one of those problematic frats that rank all the women on campus by hotness and make pledges fuck a goat. The authors, three Duke professors, prefaced their book defending their use of "female models as model females" with all the wit and sophistication of a trio of balding middle-aged men whose midlife crises have synchronized:
You see, this wasn't just some cheap sexist ploy to make more money by treating the female body as both a literal and figurative piece of meat. It was a brilliant educational tool that kept these young scholars' attention to the subject matter. "If you think that once you have seen the backside of one female, you've seen them all, then you haven't sat in a sidewalk café in Italy where girl watching is a cultivated art. Your authors, whose zeal in this regard never flags, refer you to figures III-IV and VIII as proof that female backs can keep an interest in anatomy alive."
If writing about women with the same level of empathy they had for their medical cadavers makes it look like Duke's professors were a bunch of out-of-date sexists -- that's because they were. Until the '90s, prestigious U.S. med schools were total sausage fests, secretly capping admission of women (or as they called them, nurses) at as low as 10%. That this created the kind of bro-y bubble where tenured professors were one step away from bringing a stripper to class to demonstrate the ping pong launching abilities of the vaginal muscles isn't all that surprising.
But while medical schools were mired in a Medieval miasma of misogyny, the rest of the world had moved on. The professors soon were embroiled in a self-described "feminist witchhunt" as activists and student groups protested the campus. Duke University halted their peddling of professorial porno and recalled The Anatomical Basis of Medical Practice. Only 5,000 of the titty textbook ever went into circulation, a prized find among curio collectors and kids looking for moldy old porn in the woods.
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A Racist Textbook Contains Thousands Of Stolen Coed Nudes
While smartphone cameras have certainly made things easier, taking nudes is a practice as old as the heliographic engravings young Victorian women used to show off their bare ankles. Except that, in the days before the internet, you didn't have to worry about your drunk college days nudes ending up on some revenge porn website as much as in a pseudoscientific medical textbook advocating eugenics.
If you ever thought that measuring someone's skull to predict their entire personality made too much sense, then constitutional psychology might be your bag. Pioneered by Dr. William H. Sheldon in the 1940s, his theory claims that "physique equals destiny," that your personality is determined completely by your physical frame. As such, every body is a combination of three mentality-influencing shapes or "somatotypes." There's the muscular mesomorph -- which causes you to act like a jock, the weak and gangly ectomorph -- which makes you nerdier, and the round and squat endomorph -- which turns you into the fat best friend in every romantic comedy.
Through measuring their height, weight, and muscle circumference, Sheldon categorized people with a three-digit serial number based on how high they scored on each somatotype. This code, much like a muscular Meyers-Briggs test, Sheldon claimed allowed him to predict everything about a person -- from their mental state to their criminal propensities to whether or not they'd survive flying a plane in World War II.
Sheldon unveiled his theory in his definitive work on cognitive psychology, Atlas of Men: A Guide for Somatotyping the Adult Male at All Ages. For the textbook, Sheldon had photographed thousands of nude men, displaying them face-less and junk-less in his book to exemplify every possible variation of his bodily astrology and analyzing their personality based on their paunch and noodly arms.
How did Sheldon manage to convince thousands of dudes to have their naked bodies published and critiqued by a pop-psychologist? The answer is: he didn't. During the early 20th century, Ivy League universities believed that being smart and sitting up straight was the same thing. Therefore, freshmen students were required to have "posture pictures" taken, three naked photographs of their front, side, and back, with the students deemed too slouchy being sent to a remedial posture class. What these naked teens (which included future icons like Bob Woodward, Sylvia Plath, George Bush, and Hilary Clinton) didn't know was that from the '40s until the '60s, the posture project had been handed over to William Sheldon, who started using the nudes for his research without the students' consent.
This shady practice only came out after Sheldon started trawling for nudes in women's colleges for his upcoming Atlas of Women. Some of the nudes leaked, and the ensuing scandal drew much-unwanted attention to the psychologist's practices. Particularly the fact that he was a white supremacist who was using his (elite white Ivy League-focused) constitutional psychology as an argument for eugenics. His books were taken out of circulation, and Sheldon died in disgrace in 1977.
What survived much longer was Sheldon's vast collection of Ivy League teen nudes. It wasn't until 1995 that a New York Times journalist discovered that the Smithsonian Institution had quietly swept up the negatives and had been hiding them in their National Anthropological Archives for decades. After the reveal, all the nudes were hastily shredded, destroying the last of Sheldon's misdeeds and roughly forty billion dollars worth of blackmail material.
The Greatest Surgical Manual In The World (Was Written By A Nazi Doctor)
There isn't a single word in the world that isn't ruined if you put the word "Nazi" in front of it. Nazi puppy? Terrible. Nazi wellness clinic? Awful. Even Nazi Nazi evokes a disgusting Aryan algebra about raising to the white power of two. But nowhere does the Nazi adjective do more damage than in front of the word "doctor," a nightmarish title that'll make you instinctively run to the nearest pair of twins and hide them in your attic. But while being a Nazi doctor makes you a bad person, it doesn't necessarily make you a bad doctor.
There's a dirty little secret among today's top-notch scalpel jockeys that the greatest surgical manual is a 1959 book called Pernkopf Topographic Anatomy of Man or "Pernkopf's Atlas." Dissatisfied about the inaccurate and vague anatomical diagrams of his time, Dr. Eduard Pernkopf and a team of assistants and classically trained artists spent twenty years working 18-hour days to create the greatest anatomical textbook ever made. The result was a dense seven-volume tome containing over 800 hyper realistic watercolor paintings of the human anatomy, each one so vivid and detailed they're hard to look at on an empty stomach.
And it becomes even harder once you realize you're looking at the mutilated corpses of Holocaust victims. Not just a stickler for precision in anatomy, the Austrian Dr. Pernkopf was also a stickler for preserving the master race. The good doctor and his team were all hardcore Nazis -- the kind that wore their Nazi uniforms under their surgical gowns and doodled Swastikas and SS thunderbolts around their signatures like a bunch of Totenkopf tweens.
A loyalist (and brownshirt) since day 1, Hitler made Pernfopf the head of the University of Vienna and its medical institute. There he oversaw the elimination of all Untermensch doctors, experimentation on the mentally disabled, and the euthanization of hundreds of children. Beyond those light duties, Pernkopf was able to use the Nazi purges to his benefit like few other ghouls could. Over the years, he was gifted over 1,000 guillotined corpses of executed undesirables, including antifascists, Communists, and, of course, Jews, to tear apart and splatter all over his book. Most wound up rotting on a giant corpse pile behind the university, with Pernkopf picking choice specimens to keep in his vats of formaldehyde underneath the institute.
While his headless victims at least didn't witness their desecrated remains become centerfolds in a textbook, on a happier note, neither did Pernkopf. After the fall of the Nazi empire and a stint in a POW camp, Pernkopf led a short and miserable life in disgrace, dying before he could complete his life's work. Two of his toady assistants finished the final volumes and published the collection in 1959 -- but only after airbrushing out all the Nazi symbols to appeal to a slightly broader readership.
By the '90s, the secret was fully out that Pernkopf was a hideous Nazi bastard and his atlas doubled as a glossy coffee table book of crimes against humanity. Its publisher officially pulled the book from print in 1994. But to this day, many doctors hideaway a hard-won copy of Pernkopf's Atlas, claiming that consulting the surgical manual's unrivaled detail has occasionally meant the difference between life and death on their operating table. And while many would like to see every copy of this cursed manual burned on a pyre, some ethicists, including Jewish scholars and rabbis, still think it better to separate the flaying from the flayer. They would rerelease the book and honor the victims' sacrifices by saving innocent lives -- with a lengthy foreword informing people what a disgusting waste of skin the author was.
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Top Image: Williams and Wilkins, Nabu Press