How doctors got it wrong: 3 'conditions' they no longer reco
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Read this spotlight feature to find out about the three interesting "medical conditions" that healthcare professionals no longer recognize as such.

1. Bicycle face: 'A physiognomic implosion'

Dr. A. Shadwell coined the expression "bicycle face" to describe a pseudo medical condition — with mainly physiological symptoms — that affected cyclists particularly women in the early days of cycling in the 1800s. In his article, Shadwell claimed that this "condition" caused a "peculiar strained, set look," as well as "an expression anxious, irritable, or at best stony" in the rider. Patricia Anne Vertinsky, in her book, The Eternally Wounded Woman, also cites sources describing "bicycle face" in women as a "general focusing of all the features toward the center, a sort of physiognomic implosion."

2. Female hysteria: 'A nervous disease'

The term hysteria derives through the Greek word "hystera," which means "womb." Yet, female hysteria became a much more prominent concept in the 19th century when the neuropsychiatrist Dr. Pierre Janet began to study psychiatric — and alleged psychiatric — conditions at the Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris, France, in the 1850s. Little by little, a complex image of this nebulous mental condition emerged. Typically, doctors diagnosed women with hysteria, as they considered women more sensitive and easily influenced. A hysteric woman might exhibit extreme nervousness or anxiety but also abnormal eroticism. For this reason, in 1878, doctors invented and first started to use vibrators on their patients, believing that this — often enforced — stimulation could help cure hysteria. Instead, the APA replaced this elusive "condition" that aimed to encompass too many symptoms with an array of distinct psychiatric conditions, including somatic symptom disorder (previously "somatoform disorder") and dissociative disorders.

3. Dysaesthesia aethiopica: 'A hebetude'

In Nineteenth-century, Slavery was widespread in the U.S. and some doctors made victims of slavery also victims of scientific racism. Dr. Samuel Adolphus Cartwright, who practiced medicine in the states of Mississippi and Louisiana in the 19th century, was guilty of inventing several "medical conditions" that made the lives and situations of enslaved people even worse.
One of these "conditions" was dysaesthesia aethiopica, a fictitious mental illness that allegedly rendered slaves lazy and mentally unfit. Cartwright described this "condition" as a "hebetude [lethargy] of mind and obtuse sensibility of body." Dysaesthesia aethiopica was supposed to render enslaved people less likely to follow orders and make them sleepy. It also supposedly led to the development of lesions on their skin, for which Cartwright prescribed whipping. The lesions were, most likely, the result of violent mistreatment at the hands of slave owners in the first place.

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