Sawbones: Self-Experimentation


This week on Sawbones, Dr. Sydnee risks Justin's sanity as she talks about the history of doctors experimenting on themselves and relates not one but two of the most upsetting anecdotes ever released on their unsuspecting listeners. Enjoy!

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Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers


Werner Forssmann

I love this podcast. Always funny and educational.

I do want to criticize the dismissal of Werner Forssmann on account of his political ties. Werner Forssmann was a member of the German National Socialists, aka. the Nazis, but that was a popular party that a majority of the population joined. It is unclear if Forssmann was a supporter for any reason other than it being popular. There doesn't appear to be any evidence he was involved with experimentation or testing. This is not what is conveyed in this episode, which makes it seem like he joined the party to continue his work using prisoners as subjects.

He had switched focus from cardiology to urology after being dismissed from the hospital, making further catherization experiments unlikely. Moreover after the war, his service was reviewed by a war crimes tribunal, and he was released with no charges. By all accounts, he served in the Medical Corps, treating wounded soldiers, where he received decorations for valor. He was a German soldier serving in World War II, but I feel it is a disservice to completely disregard him because of that.

I realize that Sawbones is comedy podcast, but it is time to move beyond the notion that the other side of a conflict must be irrevocably deranged and evil. There are good and bad people on all sides. Life has very few absolutes.

Also funny note, Werner received a Nobel Prize for his work, even though he had been working as a country doctor at the time. He was shocked to receive such a high honor.

Apparatus for facilitating childbirth by centrifugal force

I loved this last episode! Poor Justin's horror at Sydnee's tales of medical mayhem always equal comedy gold.

I can't remember if you guys have covered childbirth yet, but as soon as I saw this mentioned in a BBC article entitled Why bad inventions are good I knew I had to share it with you:

Browse any patent library, and you’ll find countless gizmos that never made it off the drawing board. Marc Abrahams, who founded the Ig Nobel prize, suggested one of these wacky creations – the “Apparatus for facilitating childbirth by centrifugal force”, invented by George and Charlotte Blonsky in 1965. Abrahams describes how it works: “When a woman is ready to deliver her child, she lies back on a circular table. She is strapped down. The table is then rotated at high speed. The baby comes flying out.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, it didn’t catch on.