7.13.2006

Leave it Dead: 19th Century Flake

This is Dr. John Kellogg, admiring a nice piece of bowel...

The 19th century produced some pretty interesting minds: Charles Darwin, Thomas Edison, Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche.

Today, let us focus on a more eccentric quack innovator. A pioneer in the field of medicine: Dr. John Harvey Kellogg.

He was not only the inventor of his namesake's famous Corn Flakes. He also was a legitimate practitioner of holistic medicine and ran a sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan which specialized in curing disease by way of vegetarian diets, exercise, and perhaps most importantly: enemas. Convinced that the human bowel was the container of almost every known human ailment, visitors of the Battle Creek Sanitarium received colonic cleansings of a most industrious nature. Up to 15 gallons of water were delivered up their exit chutes at a time. That deluge was then followed by the insertion of yogurt to help restore the bacterial (that was likely washed out by by the aforementioned Niagra Falls treatment, but never mind). If the purification was not occurring as desired, Kellogg would often remove a long stretch of the offending bowel surgically.

Of course, Kellogg was at least edging onto something helpful. Eating yogurt is a good way to balance the bacteria in the digestive system. Daily enemas, though, have sort of gone the way of the dinosaur, being replaced by a more sensible, less invasive high fiber diet. If you want a healthy bowel, one need only start from the mouth.

I gets weirder. As a Seventh Day Adventist, Kellogg was a strong opponent of the practice of masturbation and was convinced that the practice was responsible for creating acne and atrophy of the testicles. He was also against sexual relations in married relationships. He had no children of his own, but he and his wife managed to adopt several. His warnings against masturbation were so strong that he was a heavy advocate for male infant circumcision and female clitoris burning (or removal) as a way to prevent it, as he wrote here:
"A remedy for masturbation which is almost always successful in small boys is circumcision. The operation should be performed by a surgeon without administering an anesthetic, as the brief pain attending the operation will have a salutary effect upon the mind, especially if it be connected with the idea of punishment. In females, the author has found the application of pure carbolic acid to the clitoris an excellent means of allaying the abnormal excitement."
I'll leave it up to you to decide whether or not this was an effective deterrent.

What was intriguing about Dr. Kellogg was no matter how odd some of his theories were, the man managed to actually do some good things. He didn't charge his patients a fee for the use his famous sanitarium. Good luck finding anyone who will give you a pro bono 15-gallon water and yogurt enema these days! He also patented many items that we take for granted today, such as peanut butter and the electric blanket. He also lived until he was 91 years of age, and worked 15-hour days right up until his death.

While he had the right idea about certain things such as diet, exercise, avoiding smoking, the tastiness of Cornflakes (I like mine with sliced banana and a healthy sprinkling of sugar), his application of his theories was sadistic, vain, and damaging, which is why I think you, Dr. Kellogg- with your turbo enema machine, bowel and foreskin removing scalpel, and clitoris burning carbolic acid- should remain dead. If you do want to see a pretty entertaining portrayal of the man, do watch The Road to Wellville starting Matthew Broderick and Anthony Hopkins as the good doctor.

Now who wants some yogurt?

5 comments:

  1. Hell yeah, the Road to Wellville! I was gonna say that before I got to the end of your blog, but I should've known you'd cover it. Wasn't Rosie O'donnell in that, too? I can't remember now.

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  2. Well, that explains my acne.

    He might have been on to something with the yogurt basting idea. In the middle ages, they used cottage cheese... with insubstantial results.

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  3. I was circumcised as a baby. I still masturbate. I never had acne. However, I do have tiny little nuts.

    If someone told me to fill my ass with yogurt, I'd punch him in the neck.

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  4. Did he get the term "Snap, Crackle, Pop" from the bowel flushings?

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  5. Burning my clit? Ouch. No thank you!! Very interesting stuff. Thanks for sharing.

    Carmen

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