Book Review: Emotions and Surgery in Britain, 1793-1912

“Detachment is not the eternal emotional disposition of the surgical operator.” So concludes Michael Brown in Emotions and Surgery in Britain, 1793-1912. By reconstructing the history of how emotions informed and often guided surgical decisions, he thoroughly dismantles any notion of the cold hearted surgeon.

Please open with a vivid and compelling short story of a patient encounter

The textbooks that I used as a medical student in the 1990s were illustrated with photographs of real patients. I can vividly recall the images of three depicted patients, stripped naked, standing with their palms facing upwards, posed with their hands by their sides and feet shoulder width apart like Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man….