Sawbones: The One Problem with Benjamin Rush


After weeks of degrading medical professionals we turn to a true hero of medicine. He revolutionized psychiatry, he signed the Declaration of Independence and he's still influential to this day. There's just ... there's just one tiny problem. We're talking about Benjamin Rush this week on Sawbones and you'll want to join Justin and Dr. Sydnee when it all goes horribly wrong.

You can subscribe to their show right now on iTunes! Then tweet about or follow the show on Twitter (@Sawbones) so all your friends and family can be as horrified and entertained as you.

Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers


Hi, Hello...

This was a fantastic episode. Oddly enough, I am a direct descendant of this crazy dude and is one of my only claims to fame. You know because taking credit for the stuff other people do is pretty cool.

"My ancestor signed the Declaration of Independence" is usually how it goes, now I can add "also, he probably contributed to the deaths of our founding fathers!" fantastic...

Also my ancestor

I am also his descendant. My brother is named Rush after him :):)


No, not the removal of your wife!

This is the removal necrotic flesh from a wound. Great episode once again. Very entertaining. Sydnee mentioned that Benjamin Rush would often continue keeping wounds open and poked fun at that process. With all the nasties floating about in the 1700's this may indeed have been a bad idea. However, as noted in a recent JAMA article this procedure has had success in reducing the healing time for chronic wounds. Perhaps this was a man ahead of his time.

Keep up the good work!


Rush and race in context

Hey Justin and Sydnee!

I love the podcast! I am working on my PhD in history of medicine. It is worth noting that as weird as Rush's theory of blackness as a disease is, he was arguing against the notion that black people were a different species. As messed up as the leprosy theory is, he is trying to combat the notion that blackness is caused by innate anatomical differences. So at its core, the leprosy theory does argue that white and black people are biologically equal and the same. This not apologetics, but there is a little nuance in the morality of his theory in comparison to other mainstream scientific theories of race.

Keep on doing this wonderful show!