Medical Practices From History That Will Drop Your Jaw...


This vintage electrotherapy ad makes shock treatment sound like a must-have procedure

Think back to the first time you remember visiting a doctor’s office. All of the equipment looked so large and frightening, and the examination was definitely strange, but regardless of which decade you made your first doctor’s visit it couldn’t have been as weird as the medical practices of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The tools, prescriptions, and ideas that were going around at the time certainly helped modern medicine get to where it is now, but it was definitely weird. Come along while we take a look at some of the most odd medicines and health practices from long ago. Let’s go!

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You’re reading that correctly, this ad from the 1940s promoting electrotherapy says that you’ll live longer if you get electro shock therapy after the age of 40. It’s clear that the Northwestern National Insurance Company really wants people to get electro shock therapy, so much so that they refer to the “remarkable treatment” as a “painless” procedure that can cure mental illness.

The strangest thing about this ad is that it’s mostly being pointed at women, with the text reading that “melancholia” is most likely to strike women between the ages of 45 and 60. They claim that this very dangerous therapy is the only thing that can cure someone who’s “deeply despondent.” If only it could cure hyperbole.