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Go Back   Casebook Forums > Ripper Discussions > Doctors and Coroners

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  #1  
Old 06-30-2012, 12:49 AM
towboydds towboydds is offline
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Default Medical Foundation/Religious Foundation

I am not sure how deeply this has been studied, but according to the "most respected" books that on this subject it has not been given the proper look that it needs.

The medical field at the time had a closed eye to new practices or ideas that did not follow the main course of medical practice or examination. This of course was balanced and backed by the church itself. If one does the study and research one would find that the church had more of an influence over the medical profession than did the furtherance of medical study.

This does not exclude all medical fields but includes all of them, the psychiatric community just in itself was looked at as a practice of witchcraft by the church, and in most countries is still looked at as a hogwash idea. The idea of examining dead bodies for a cause or result of the death was only practiced as a furtherance of giving help to the living, not a scientific idea of how someone actually died and what was the without a doubt cause.

The Medical Community was as tight nit as the Religious Community was, and to have 'posers' running about doing things or saying things was a reflection upon their high standards that really in all rights, weren't that high in reality. Thus the simple flushing of a knowledgeable knife attack on any of the victims, and 'no' medical knowledge was used or necessary to do the brutality to the victims. BUT it is too well seen that there was a knowledge of how to use a knife in order to do the things that were done, and yet again thrown to the side by the Police,Medical Personnel,Media,Religious Personnel. All of these things cry out to be seen but are so easily overlooked and not given full credit in their respects.

So does a suspect now stand out if the information of the times revealed shows the lack of openness that I have so simply and not in detail explained here? I personally have no suspects, nor persons of interest in this and wish to remain open minded to them, but I am very closed minded about the way things were in those days as the recounts of history prove over and over in their own periodicals reveals, and their own writings and words show.

Your Humble Servant
Darrel Derek Stieben

P.S. Post your opinions please I need to see a better judgment to see the light, the darkness only shows so much.
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Old 06-30-2012, 02:12 AM
Errata Errata is offline
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I can't say as I concede the point. The medical community was not controlled or particularly influenced by the church. Had it been there would not have been any autopsies, any detailed anatomical examinations, any use of anesthetic, tons of things. Victorian medicine was actually improving by leaps and bounds. People were starting to recover from most surgeries, new drugs, new treatments, the birth of specialization. Psychiatry was still primitive, but madness was no longer seen as contagious. Remember that until the 1920's we didn't even know what caused shock, the heart was considered inoperable until 1941, and while brain surgery existed we didn't have any kind of reliable brain mapping until the 1980s. There was a lot they simply didn't know, and had no way of finding out. But they did ridiculously well with anecdotal evidence.

The shortcomings of Victorian medicine had nothing to do with the church, but with Victoria herself. She was quite the liberal, and it Albert who was the prudish disapproving one. But he died, and she enshrines all thing Albert, and thus even furniture had to have it's legs covered. Except you couldn't call them legs, they were "limbs". And Albert was decidedly not C of E. So while all churches generally have problems with intoxicants, extracurricular sexual practices, and the mutilation of the dead, that's not what the problem was. Psychiatry was not seen as witchcraft. It was seen as pointless. And they absolutely did autopsy to determine cause of death and to gather basic forensic evidence such as bruising and such. In these cases, cause of death was pretty glaring, so they didn't bother to look a whole lot further. And medical knowledge isn't necessary. I can perform a tracheotomy with a pen. Not because I'm a doctor, but because I understand the principle. There's actually quite a bit of evidence that says this killer had little to no practical experience with cutting flesh.

They got the evidence they knew to get, in the best way they knew how. And to be brutally fair, it was about another 30-40 years before we learned to do anything more than what these coroners did. So give them a break. They may be wrong, they may be ignorant, but it isn't a lack of effort or a failing of London's medical community. It's because it was 1888. I mean, they only figured out lead paint was bad for you in my lifetime, and that's been killing people since the dawn of the industrial revolution. We don't always know what we need to know when we need it.
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Old 06-30-2012, 02:38 AM
towboydds towboydds is offline
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There's actually quite a bit of evidence that says this killer had little to no practical experience with cutting flesh.

The difference between having cutting through flesh before and not having cutting through flesh before is a far cry from being skilled or unskilled. Not everyone has a natural ability ingrained in them to know how hard to press with a knife verses a sharper instrument. As the fact may be, it is an unnatural talent to be able to do so well or even slightly well the first 5 times that one would try it. Yet there was no evidence that the killer got better, only that it was seemingly consistent in all 5 canonical.

As for your theory on religion not being an integral part of Victorian Medicine, that is a different matter all together. The church itself did not want autopsy performed, but gave permission to do so only to further medical discovery, not causation. This practice was not followed by all practitioners thus leading to the constant nose turning in each field of study. Priests walked around holding their robes like they were Gods, and Doctors walked with their hands in their lab coat pockets to show an air of superior entitlement.
As for Psychiatry, witchcraft it was, as stated by journals of English priests and Cardinals as late as 1910. Not all believed it to be so dubious, but all considered it to be hog wash, and opinion based upon madness itself.

Today in America, it is plain to see the psychiatric world is nothing more than magicians using slight of tongue instead of hand to trick their patients. When they cant they prescribe pills instead to make themselves right. I enjoy Psychology myself and believe it needs a lot of work, because it is opinion based on opinion based on widely excepted and discredited facts.

I do not disagree with all that you say, I believe you do have well founded facts, but that they might also be defending in many ways to those communities. And I did ask for opinion, so Thank You Kind Sir. Your comments have been well received, and now I have to do more research because of your comments.

Your Humble Servant

Darrel Derek Stieben
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  #4  
Old 06-30-2012, 07:09 AM
auspirograph auspirograph is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by towboydds View Post
I am not sure how deeply this has been studied, but according to the "most respected" books that on this subject it has not been given the proper look that it needs.
Hi towboydds,

I'm glad you brought this up and it's true that the subject on religious/medical Victorian thinking and this influence on a study of Jack the Ripper has been neglected.

It is particularly important in a complete understanding of the thinking of Sir Robert Anderson, inquest and autopsy reporting and on how it forms the tone of the police investigative files, which are relied on for modern theorising.

I have however made a detailed study of this subject you bring up in my recently released book which you may find of interest. The title is Jack the Ripper and Black Magic: Victorian Conspiracy Theories, Secret Societies and the Supernatural Mystique of the Whitechapel Murders.

You are quite correct that the evolving medical knowledge had roots and was influenced and perhaps regulated according to prominent religious thinking of the Victorian period. And as you indicated, there are many examples found in the historical sources.

The issues of Victorian medical approaches to the Whitechapel murders and critical beliefs which informed them has mostly passed on to the more glamorous aspects of applying modern forensic thinking to the case. The issue of suspected anatomical knowledge of the killer has and continues to be most central to any speculation. Anderson ordered a complete review resulting in the Thomas Bond report and opinion.

There was sufficient reason to suspect the possibility of a medical ripper, whether true or not, but the issue has tended to cloud the scarce facts. One area of interest I explored in the book was the idea that the murder weapon gave the impression of medical skill rather than anatomical knowledge displayed in the wounds. It is not a new idea but that too needs a proper look as you say.

You have brought up some very good points that when assessed more fully, do I agree give a better perspective on the original police investigation of Jack the Ripper. A Victorian serial killer who was also no doubt influenced and formed by the the thinking of his time.
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Last edited by auspirograph : 06-30-2012 at 07:18 AM.
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  #5  
Old 06-30-2012, 07:21 AM
Barnaby Barnaby is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by towboydds View Post
[i]I enjoy Psychology myself and believe it needs a lot of work, because it is opinion based on opinion based on widely excepted and discredited facts.
Off topic, but this saddens me. Psychology has advanced in the last 100 years, you know. As a laboratory science, I doubt you would recognize it.
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Old 06-30-2012, 05:54 PM
Hunter Hunter is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by auspirograph View Post
The issues of Victorian medical approaches to the Whitechapel murders and critical beliefs which informed them has mostly passed on to the more glamorous aspects of applying modern forensic thinking to the case. The issue of suspected anatomical knowledge of the killer has and continues to be most central to any speculation. Anderson ordered a complete review resulting in the Thomas Bond report and opinion.

There was sufficient reason to suspect the possibility of a medical ripper, whether true or not, but the issue has tended to cloud the scarce facts.
You are right.. and there was a contemporaneous catalyst for this that has largely been overlooked. As a result, there has been little proper analysis of the 'anatomical knowledge' aspect and the controversy as it existed at the time because it has always been viewed from the wrong perspective.

That is about to change.
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Old 07-01-2012, 02:41 AM
auspirograph auspirograph is offline
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Thanks for that Hunter.

What's the catalyst you refer to? Certainly the mutilations added shock value to the crimes and this I see as a direct influence on the many, many theories and speculative histories that occur in Ripperology. When the Victorian religious view of the body and the nature of crime as evil grates with progressive science, as it did during the Whitechapel murders, files take on a meaning exclusive to the period. From a different perspective as you say.

On October 25, 1888, Robert Anderson, on the authority of Sir Charles Warren, sent a request to a Scotland Yard Central Office police surgeon, Dr. Thomas Bond, to review the murders. Anderson stated, “In dealing with the Whitechapel murders the difficulties of conducting the inquiry are largely increased by reason of our having no reliable opinion for our guidance as to the amount of surgical skill and anatomical knowledge probably possessed by the murderer or murderers.” Bond’s report was made on November 10, 1888, a day after he examined the Dorset Street crime scene and attended the autopsy of Mary Kelly. He also reviewed medical files on the previous victims.
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Old 07-01-2012, 03:05 AM
Roy Corduroy Roy Corduroy is offline
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Good evening Darrel,

Which religion practiced at that time in the British Isles are you referring to - Church of England, Protestant, Catholic or Jewish?

Quote:
Originally Posted by auspirograph View Post
You are quite correct that the evolving medical knowledge had roots and was influenced and perhaps regulated according to prominent religious thinking of the Victorian period. And as you indicated, there are many examples found in the historical sources.
Could you give an example please?

Roy
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Old 07-01-2012, 04:09 AM
auspirograph auspirograph is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roy Corduroy View Post
Good evening Darrel,

Which religion practiced at that time in the British Isles are you referring to - Church of England, Protestant, Catholic or Jewish?
In the Whitechapel murders? I'd say all of them plus a few exotic Victorian pastimes.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Roy Corduroy View Post
Could you give an example please?

Roy
Certainly, but don't just take my word for it. Medical historian Rhodri Hayward stated that “...the idea of a conflict between demonology and psychiatry has been a foundational myth in the history of medicine. Nineteenth-Century alienists [medical specialists in the insane] such as J. M. Charcot and Henry Maudsley developed critiques of supernatural phenomena in an attempt to pathologise religious experience."

And that was in an article called, “Demonology, Neurology, and Medicine in Edwardian Britain,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine. Vol. 78, No. 1, Spring 2004, pp. 37–58.

Victorians generally took their religion seriously and instances of dogmatic views abound in letters and press coverage of the Whitechapel murders. Mr. Spurgeon, for example, was a staunch disciple and preacher who was a close associate of Robert Anderson. He was also a friend of Anderson’s British spy in America, Le Caron, who appeared before the Special Commission on alleged criminal associations of Irish members of Parliament during the period 1888-89. Anderson and Spurgeon were deeply immersed in defense of the King James Version from revisionist attacks of the Cambridge biblical review team from 1881.

The 'religious mania' police investigations found resonance in the savage mutilation of East End prostitutes and enforcement of Temperance laws and moral standards.

Robert Anderson, a prophetic and apocalyptic Protestant preacher and head of CID on the Whitechapel murders, held a few prominent religious views on crime too. Anderson wrote:

"In the lowest classes of the community sin is but another word for crime. At a higher level in the social scale it is regarded as equivalent to vice. And in a still higher sphere the element of impiety is taken into account. But all this is arbitrary and false. Crime and vice and impiety are unquestionably sinful; but yet the most upright and moral and religious of men may be the greatest sinner upon earth. Why state this hypothetically? It is a fact; witness the life and character of Saul of Tarsus."
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