An Anatomy of Addiction by Howard Markel
Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug Cocaine

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From acclaimed medical historian Howard Markel, author of When Germs Travel, the astonishing account of the years-long cocaine use of Sigmund Freud, young, ambitious neurologist, and William Halsted, the equally young, pathfinding surgeon. Markel writes of the physical and emotional damage caused by the then-heralded wonder drug, and how each man ultimately changed the world in spite of it—or because of it. One became the father of psychoanalysis; the other, of modern surgery.
 
Both men were practicing medicine at the same time in the 1880s: Freud at the Vienna General Hospital, Halsted at New York’s Bellevue Hospital. Markel writes that Freud began to experiment with cocaine as a way of studying its therapeutic uses—as an antidote for the overprescribed morphine, which had made addicts of so many, and as a treatment for depression.
 
Halsted, an acclaimed surgeon even then, was curious about cocaine’s effectiveness as an anesthetic and injected the drug into his arm to prove his theory. Neither Freud nor Halsted, nor their colleagues, had any idea of the drug’s potential to dominate and endanger their lives. Addiction as a bona fide medical diagnosis didn’t even exist in the elite medical circles they inhabited.
 
In An Anatomy of Addiction, Markel writes about the life and work of each man, showing how each came to know about cocaine; how Freud found that the drug cured his indigestion, dulled his aches, and relieved his depression. The author writes that Freud, after a few months of taking the magical drug, published a treatise on it, Über Coca, in which he described his “most gorgeous excitement.” The paper marked a major shift in Freud’s work: he turned from studying the anatomy of the brain to exploring the human psyche.
 
Halsted, one of the most revered of American surgeons, became the head of surgery at the newly built Johns Hopkins Hospital and then professor of surgery, the hospital’s most exalted position, committing himself repeatedly to Butler Hospital, an insane asylum, to withdraw from his out-of control cocaine use.
 
Halsted invented modern surgery as we know it today: devising new ways to safely invade the body in search of cures and pioneering modern surgical techniques that controlled bleeding and promoted healing. He insisted on thorough hand washing, on scrub-downs and whites for doctors and nurses, on sterility in the operating room—even inventing the surgical glove, which he designed and had the Goodyear Rubber Company make for him—accomplishing all of this as he struggled to conquer his unyielding desire for cocaine.
 
An Anatomy of Addiction tells the tragic and heroic story of each man, accidentally struck down in his prime by an insidious malady: tragic because of the time, relationships, and health cocaine forced each to squander; heroic in the intense battle each man waged to overcome his affliction as he conquered his own world with his visionary healing gifts. Here is the full story, long overlooked, told in its rich historical context.




From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Howard Markel

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Howard Markel is the George E. Wantz Professor of the History of Medicine and Professor of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases at the University of Michigan, where he directs the Center for the History of Medicine. He is the author of the award-winning Quarantine! and numerous articles for scholarly publication, as well as for The New York Times, Harper's, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, and National Public Radio.
 
Published July 19, 2011 by Vintage. 352 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Health, Fitness & Dieting, History, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Two of them were giants: Sigmund Freud and William Halsted, and no history of their fields—psychology and surgery—is complete without considering their contributions, for “each man changed the world.” They were also both cocaine addicts for part of their lives, and Markel investigates how that co...

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The New York Times

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“And if you are forward you shall see who is the stronger, a gentle little girl who doesn’t eat enough or a big wild man who has cocaine in his body.” Freud stopped using cocaine sometime around 1896, when he was 40, before writing the works that made him famous.

Jul 19 2011 | Read Full Review of An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigm...

The New York Times

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As Freud wrote almost three decades later, “the study on coca was an ­allotrion” — an idle pursuit that distracts from serious responsibilities — “which I was eager to conclude.” Markel, a professor of medical history at the University of Michigan who has also done clinical work involvin...

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Publishers Weekly

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In the 1880s, Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, and William Halsted, the founder of modern surgery, independently and personally discovered the powerful anesthetic, and terribly addictive, effects of cocaine.

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The Wall Street Journal

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Deborah Blum reviews Howard Markel's "An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund
Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug Cocaine."

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The Wall Street Journal

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Like many others, Freud at one point recommended cocaine as a treatment for morphine addiction, "a harebrained theory," Dr. Markel writes, which today we know could only cause further harm.

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New York Journal of Books

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That neither of the medical experts saw the dire consequences of becoming addicted to such a drug is patently clear, in that both Halsted and Freud not only experimented with using the drugs on themselves, but also on their own students, in the case of Halsted, and on members of their own family,...

Jul 19 2011 | Read Full Review of An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigm...

Los Angeles Times

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Freud analyzed his responses to cocaine in that paper, and this new system of autobiographical self-probing would prove crucial to his career, but he completely missed something else — cocaine's effect as a local anesthetic.

Aug 21 2011 | Read Full Review of An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigm...

Dallas News

He eventually produced a research paper titled Uber Coca, a title freighted with irony considering that Freud was probably on cocaine much of the time he was writing On Cocaine.

Aug 26 2011 | Read Full Review of An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigm...

Bookmarks Magazine

Deborah Blum New York Times 3.5 of 5 Stars "In An Anatomy of Addiction Dr. Markel braids these men's stories intricately, intelligently and often elegantly.

Jul 17 2011 | Read Full Review of An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigm...

The New Yorker

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Book Forum

In fact, rather than using cocaine to get off morphine, as Freud had once suggested, Halsted is prescribed morphine to numb his cocaine cravings, resulting in a new addiction that haunts him the rest of his life.

Jul 19 2011 | Read Full Review of An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigm...

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