Syphilis, Five Hours discussed on This Podcast Will Kill You
Then been brought over or could have a lot of people of the pre Columbian hypothesis say well it could have happened in both places because it is pretty clear that syphilis skeletons in the new world it's pretty clear that syphilis was there okay and infecting people before Columbus and so they say well maybe yaws made the leap to syphilis in the new world and also made the leap to syphilis in the old world and it's kind of an interesting that seems highly unlikely but yeah anyway I feel like then you'd be more likely to see like two distinct forms of syphilis which I think we really see so interesting idea it's interesting and also as you mentioned this is called the great the great imitator and sew writings are sort of BIA gabby interpreted a lot of different ways there's a lot of retrospective diagnosing of famous people that is interesting it's like if you were miss if you were an artist or composer or a dictator you had syphilis for sure yeah which could it could be possible entirely but it's just sort of like ray the fact where the fact are there and I'm sorry this is jumping your gun are there any descriptions of it in other parts of the world like in Asia or Africa or anything like that not that I could find I didn't see anything that was super hey from this origins part of the story I WanNa talk of course about the etymology of syphilis and not really at scientific name but because I think that's less exciting trump and nema meaning attorney thread in Greek and power to meaning Pale Yup but the words syphilis where does it come from the name wasn't actually in heavy use for most of the history of the disease and most people opted to call it the blank disease pox the Blake disease the French disease this disease or great pox or pox or wild warts okay that's my favorite yet I mean I was like isn't that what we call it now yeah yeah works let's gotta be the Kandalama Lada because they're pretty wild but it wasn't until the end of the eighteenth century really that people started to use syphilis again syphilis is the main mm character of an epic poem and in this poem syphilis who is a shepherd gets upset when there is a bad drought that is killing the land and his sheep it's like an old Roman poem he blames the drought on the Sun God Likely Apollo or the Roman equivalent if there is one whatever and instead says he's going to worship the king whose sheep he herds the king is like but the Sun God is really annoyed and so he sends a venereal plague upon the countryside where syphilis lives simplicity's the first victim so yeah interesting interesting things civilised the shepherd also I don't remember if we talked about this and the gonorrhea episodes I'm just going to repeat it anyway but the origin of the term uh-huh venereal disease did we talk about that I don't remember it tell me again okay well it tells you a lot about the historical attitudes and even the day possibly attitudes of venereal disease which is no longer a term that we use because venereal comes from Venus goddess of love there was saying that a night with Venus leads to a lifetime on Mercury which brings me to my next couple points so a it reveals a lot about the blame and who who's often perceived to be the person responsible for transmitting syphilis or being the harbor of syphilis switches often a woman like a temptress or that sort of thing and then also mercury and let's just get into the treatment real quick of overlap some of these wild treatments so for a law Long Time Mercury was the chosen treatment for syphilis like even just a few years after that fourteen ninety five outbreak it was started I used and it was I guess maybe effective somewhat effective poisoned you tonight think so yeah I don't know exactly how how it worked or or if it truly was effective but people did use it up until the early twentieth century and even a little bit climate yeah and so basically they would rub it on themselves and this is what inspired the name of our quarantine by the way the killer cure because a lot of the cures that people took four syphilis would kill them so it was either syphilis would kill you or the cure would kill you right essentially murky news mercury poisoning is no small thing so other things like induced sweating and salvation were also treatments and you know I can't go yeah you said would rub mercury on themselves that's awful they would take it and other forms is also right not that better for you ingest it but I can't look it just sounds terrible that's really cool so then they also don't touch mercury do it are you also know I can't go this entire episode without describing at least one bizarre or horrifying cure and our favorite this is already a long episodes list too many but here's a great one quote if this is directly from this book read by the way call the history of syphilis quote if the penis is ulcerated an infected and then the author writes it is always the male sex for which the doctor feels pity the women being strictly confined to the role of contaminated who's schenker moreover is more difficult to discover and then continuing with the cure if the penis is also you must immediately wash it thoroughly with soft soap or apply it to a cock meaning rooster or pigeon plucked and flayed alive or else alive frog cut into what you know you're you're ulcerating serrated penis on a flayed bird or a frog that you've sliced in half that's just asking for a salmonella super infection on top of your syphilis is what you're asking for the killer cure this is I'm saying also what is up with people and plucking Cox and using them as curious didn't they do that for rabies to there was there was something along those lines that was like you have to remove I mean poor I feel terrible for these migrations yeah Here's another here's another one I'll just throw one more in there because we just your fun yeah to gain protection one must wash oneself after the act then over the glands with a piece of cloth which has masqueraded in preparation of wine shavings of GAIC I don't know what that is flakes of copy ver- precipitated Mercury Gentian Root Red Coral ash of ivory burnt Horn of deer the pre -tective must stay in place for four or five hours so this is how to prevent syphilis. This is how to a lot of the treatments actually were after the fact it was not really about prevention it was about it wasn't about prevention before sex it was about making sure that you you didn't get infected after mostly it was like well you better wash yourself quickly and then maybe soak your your penis and a cloth of some sort of weird grow discussing thing don't don't Soak your penis in that don't do it don't follow these these are not instructions to follow no they are anti -struction this this is a road map that you should not go on Oh my goodness gracious Because signs of syphilis are often less obvious in women they were often blamed for spreading the disease with bill as per us with the whole Harlot and evil temptress concept to those sorts of things like through the nineteen fifties and Sixties and Oh yes we're going to pose some some posters that are pretty yeah and cousin most places sex outside of marriage for men and basically any sex at all for women was seen as immoral diseases such as syphilis and gonorrhea were viewed as nine punishment and the word venereal as I mentioned inherently has blamed tied to it in many places to try to stop the spread of syphilis brothels were shut down or made illegal not that that necessarily decrease the prevalence of infection separate hospitals were constructed. for people with syphilis and they were often turned away at normal hospitals and it's not like these syphilis hospitals were nice care facilities they were just a place to isolate the people deemed unclean or immoral and also a lot of diagnosing especially for women happened just word of mouth so if a man said had sex like I I have syphilis I had sex with this woman so she gave it to me than the doctor would say she has syphilis she has to go to this hospital feel like I remember you saying nothing would happen for gonorrhea is yeah exactly over time though attitudes around civilised changed a little bit the disease itself had become so had been so widespread for such a long period of time and during that time it had become much less virulent and so by the time the eighteen hundreds came around it was almost in some ways viewed as a rite of passage like it was just something that happened to you the discussion of morality silas shifted again in the late eighteen hundreds early nineteen hundreds and it had always been sort of focused on the unclean or immoral aspect of it but in around this time it was more about the preservation of marriage as an institution that's what took the spotlight and a lot of focus was paid to the innocent wife made to be condemned to a life of disease due to her unfaithful husband and then congenital syphilis at this time because it wasn't known to be a pathogen it was more viewed as original sin or a punishment on behalf because your parents were like you were born bad were born yeah and so yeah as this this brings me to this this point of contagion being different thing than germ theory yeah you can you can think of disease being contagious and even though now we know that that is inherently tied to a specific pathogen whether it's a virus bacteria or worm or something thing it wasn't necessarily the same thing back then it was sort of your unclean aspect you're unclean character could be passed from person to person that is so so interesting to imagine like not knowing that a bacteria is what's causing it but knowing I got this or believing at least I got this from this person I that is such an interesting like separate Shen right. Wow it's something I hadn't really thought of before this episode because a lot of the times the episodes that we've covered we we know we've traced the concept of disease and infectious disease and it's mostly to do with my asthma and sort of like will bad bad areas swampy areas lowland areas whatever else just bad air but this was like oh no this is obviously a contagious thing right and so insist lease from like sexual intercourse right right that that is how you get it yet how that's it's very very yeah yeah and so the sexual aspect of course was had been known for a long long time but then alternate routes were also accepted again to come to light so kissing wet nurse to infant or vice versa and this was sort of a question mark I don't know and then later on the big thing was sitting on a toilet seat and this so some of these ways are actually ways that you can get syphilis a kissing for instance yes but other ones like sitting on toilet seat or being contaminated holy water which was my favorite one excuse me what Oh my God could that is such a try hard right and so these were probably ways to preserve invented to preserve the virtue of certain people who had gotten syphilis the end were like oh I've you know we should probably clarify that you cannot get syphilis from toilet seat you cannot and contaminated holy water case you were worried about that too it's also a human specific disease so that's I think worth mentioning yes this is not found in other animals it's not present in the environment this human-to-human exclusive around the late eighteen hundreds and early nineteen hundreds morality plays were written and performed poems about the dangers of syphilis and evil temptresses and all that and how they're going to poison your household and et Cetera and all of these of course it was even that got the disease from a woman of ill repute and he was often portrayed as a victim himself it was one of the three like it was genuinely called a social Z's one of the three being the other two being tuberculosis and alcoholism they were all viewed as sort of these unclean unclean holy city or something on the Hannity Trinity Eating That is so interesting to me that it was alcoholism and Tuberculosis well it was it was thought that if we have enough social reform and morality campaigns through pretty preserve orig- or to clean up this that then we could wipe these things out wow so yeah and other people believed it to be a hereditary as I mentioned and often the cause of genius or creativity something that has in common with tuberculosis syphilis is as I mentioned one of the diseases that people like to St- retrospectively diagnose so we've got some these are both confirmed and suspense capone again being being NICI tolstoy Karen Blixen who wrote out of Africa Lenin Hitler and then like many many people there's even a book called pox something about I can't remember who wrote it I didn't read it because from my understanding it's a lot of this hand wavy retrospective.