The Elephant Man

Topics: Joseph Merrick, Royal London Hospital, Sir Frederick Treves, 1st Baronet Pages: 2 (768 words) Published: October 31, 2010
JOSEPH MERRICK, dubbed "The Elephant Man", is one of the most famous patients in history, not just on account of his frightful appearance while he was alive, but also because of the division of opinion amongst the medical establishment after his death over just what disease he had suffered from. Mr. Joseph Merrick, The Elephant Man, was born on August 5th 1862 - a year after the start of American Civil War - in Leicestershire, Great Britain. His mother was slightly crippled but his brother was normal. Joseph Merrick's development was normal until age two when small growths began to be noticed on his face, the first signs of a frightful disorder which would transform him into the "Elephant Man". By the age of seventeen Joseph Merrick, The Elephant Man, joined the British labor force working in a menial capacity at a workhouse and left it at twenty-one for greater opportunity with freak shows in 1883. It was here that show promoters dubbed him the "Elephant Man" and created fantastic stories of his origins to attract the public. Three years later in 1886 Joseph Merrick was discovered by Doctor Sir Frederick Treves, and through him, eventually gave up life as a sideshow. Mr. Joseph Merrick, The Elephant Man, was admitted and lived at the Royal London Hospital where he died at twenty-seven during sleep either by dislocation of his cervical spine from the weight of his head, or from obstructive sleep apnea - he was known to sleep sitting upright to avoid suffocation. Mr. Merrick's head measured 36 inches - roughly one-third larger than an average human's and a great deal additional weight for his body to support, possibly interfering in his balance and ability to sit or stand for periods without resting his neck. Joseph Merrick's - The Elephant Man - deformity favored the right side of his body e.g. enlarging his right hand to a flipper like state. We do not have access to audio recordings of him speaking but it is reasonable from looking at photographs to believe...
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