James Parkinson and the Treatment of His Disease
The poet George Santayana (1863–1952) wrote that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. At this meeting when we are considering contemporary knowledge of the pathophysiology of Parkinsons’s disease its treatment and the assessment of a new agent, it may give us a salutory sense of historical perspective to consider the past so that we can judge more critically recent achievements. James Parkinson (1755–1824) was a general practitioner who lived and worked in Hoxton Square, now in central London, but in the late eighteenth century, a small hamlet to the east of the City. A prolific writer on matters medical, scientific and sociological, his biography has been well documented by others, but unfortunately no known portrait has survived. We are dependent upon the observations of a fellow geologist, Dr. Mantell, who wrote “Mr. Parkinson was rather below middle stature, with an energetic, intelligent and pleasing expression of countenance and of mild and courteous manner; readily imparting information either in his favourite science or on professional subjects”. His many writings ranged from the regulation of madhouses to observations on the bringing up of children, but the best known of course is his Essay on the Shaking Palsy pulished in 1817 from Paternoster Row, London, which justly gave him eponymous but posthumous international fame.
KeywordsDepression Dopamine Arsenic Serotonin Cocaine
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