Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Common events from history .... that we would find weird or inappropriate now

In ancient Rome, going to toilet was a social event. You would gather your friends, family and neigbours and go together to public latrines like this:

You see all the sticks lying on the ground, for now, just remember those. I will come back to them.
Now some real photos of Latrines of the Roman era:
You would sit on the holes doing your business. There would be flowing water under the seat. You might have engaged in conversation with the person sitting next to you. And obviously watching and hearing everyone doing their own thing did not seem to bother anyone at all....Yuuuk!
Now one more photo of a public toilet.
Now back to the sticks on the ground. The stick would have a sponge at the end. Which the Romans would soak in water, flowing through a trough at their feet,  and then clean their butts with it. Well, you did not expect them to have toilet paper ... or did you?
I am gonna go out on a limb and say we, modern people may find this quite weird and inappropriate.

LOBOTOMIES .... thank goodness they don't do this any more

Portuguese neurologist António Egas Moniz is accredited with the introduction of Lobotomy in the field of Psychosurgery.
Lobotomy was a surgery performed on mentally ill patients by drilling holes on the side or top of skull and inserting a needle like sharp instrument called Leucotome into the white matter of the frontal lobe of the brain. The surgeon would then rotate/move the needle to separate white matter fibres cutting the connection of frontal lobe with remaining part of the brain.
A variant of lobotomy-
In transorbital lobotomy devised by American physician Walter Freeman, the frontal lobe was reached by inserting and hammering an ice pick through the eye sockets of the patient.
A leucotome-
Used to penetrate and separate brain tissue
António believed that mental illness arises due to abnormal neural connections in the frontal part of the brain. He sought to fix this by removing/separating the white matter fibres in the frontal lobe . By late 1930's many patients were lobotomized by António and his associate Almeida Lima. Although, António claimed the results were satisfactory and conclusive, they were not really promising.
While some patients showed signs of calmness and less paranoia, many also had undesirable behavioral and psychological changes. Some had major brain damage and completely lost cognizance. Some even died.
Weird treatment for mental illness ?? No kidding. Don't worry, it's ancient history.  But there is still research into various brain altering surgeries and implants for violent criminals and extreme mental illness.

The Bedding Ceremony

Widely practiced in the  middle ages among wealthy elites, nobles, aristocrats and royals, and to some extent even among middle class families, this ceremony refers to the act of putting newly wed couples to the bed surrounded by witnesses who witnessed the consummation of marriage.
Historical records show bedding ceremony to be extremely popular in German states, Britain, Scandinavian countries and parts of Eastern Europe.
There were various reasons for this peculiar, voyeuristic ceremony to take place. One of the reasons was that marriage was considered more of a public affair/public investment in a couple, hence it was considered that witnessing the consummation of marriage completed the act of marriage and added extra legitimacy to it.
From the perspective of Royals, a marriage was more of a strategy to forge alliance between two powerful families or countries and consolidate more power and wealth. Hence it was necessary to perform sex in the presence of witnesses on the wedding night to send a message to the community that it was a successful union. Without consummation, the marriage could later be declared null and the couple could be granted an annulment. Witnesses could later testify about the consummation if they had been questioned. Only consummation made the marriage contract signed, sealed and delivered.
Not many couples these days would take a crowd of witnesses on their honeymoon. Glad this weird custom died out.

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