J.J. Wepfer's work on apoplexy and the paradox of 17th century medicine

Axel Karenberg
Cologne University, Germany

The Swiss physician Johann Jakob Wepfer has been hailed as the author of the "classic" modern treatise on apoplexy (1658). His name is known because he demonstrated that apoplexy resulted from brain hemorrhage or occlusive diseases of the vessels. A re-examination of the original Latin text, however, reveals surprising evidence that essential parts of Wepfer's book have been neglected so far. These chapters demonstrate that Wepfer's medical thinking is deeply rooted in pre-modern concepts, e.g. Galenic theories of brain function and iatrochemical concepts of disease. A re-evaluaton of the nonmodern elements of Wepfer's treatise leads to a better understanding of the whole text.


Session I
Friday, 20 June 1997, 10.00 - 10.15

Second Annual Meeting of the International Society for the History of the Neurosciences (ISHN) and 6th Meeting of the European Club on the History of Neurology (ECHN)

Leiden, The Netherlands