Thursday, May 18, 2017

To the educated professional medical establishment of 18th century Great Britain, bone-setters were seen as ‘Quacks’, such as the famous Sarah Mapp (d.1737), also known as ‘Crazy Sally’. “In most cases her success was rather due to the strength of her arms, and the boldness of her undertakings, than any knowledge of anatomy or skill of surgical operations”.8 Popular culture reinforced this idea. Her portrait was characterised by George Cruickshank (1792–1878) in ‘Portrait of Sarah “Crazy Sally” Mapp Bone-Setter’ and by William Hogarth (1697–1764) in his etching ‘The Company of Undertakers (Consultation of Quacks)’ (Fig. 1⇓), as well as in a comedy play by Charles Johnson (1679–1748), The Husband’s Relief; or The Female Bonesetter and the Worm Doctor.7 These negative perceptions were reinforced by the Apothecaries Act of 1815, which compelled surgeons to study similar courses to physicians, and led to the establishment of the medical registry in 1858. This resulted in some bonesetters being absorbed into the medical profession and interest in bone and joint surgery was encouraged, with the development of the instruments of the bone-setters into formal surgical tools.

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