Benjamin Franklin and the Electrical Cure for Disorders of the Nervous System

  • Stanley Finger

The eighteenth century was the century of the Enlightenment, a movement that permeated all aspects of life in Europe and her colonies, yet one with deep roots in the previous century (Outram, 1995; Porter, 1990, 2000). In natural philosophy, the drive to understand the mysteries of nature, including human nature, was strongly influenced by Francis Bacon’s (1561–1626) call for better instruments, more detailed observations, careful experiments, and reasoning with clear eyes and unbiased minds (Bacon, 1620, 2000; Pérez-Ramos, 1988). In medicine, Thomas Sydenham (1624–1689) recognized the merit of Bacon’s philosophy and, although he did not live into the eighteenth-century, his more data-driven approach to bedside medicine attracted many younger followers (Dewhurst, 1966; Sydenham, 1848, 1850).


Eighteenth Century Electrical Shock Natural Philosopher Paralyzed Limb Electrical Shock Treatment 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stanley Finger
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyWashington UniversitySt. LouisUSA

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