External Cardiac Compression: Beating a Dead Horse

  • John Anthony Tercier
Part of the Language, Discourse, Society book series (LDS)


As we saw in chapter 3, many of the folk therapies employed in the resuscitation of the drowning victim involved the use of considerable physical force in an attempt to rid the lungs of water and excite the fading life-force back into action. Victims were hung by the heals and beaten with sticks, rolled back and forth over a barrel, jogged up and down on the back of a horse, and so on. ‘Successive concussions … incite the hidden springs of life into action’ (A. Fothergill, 1795, p. 143). One of the primary goals of the Humane Society was to mitigate the more violent of these ‘pernicious’ practices: ‘It is natural to imagine that these [medical] Gentlemen … will be more cautious not to employ these pernicious and justly-exploded methods’ (Humane, 1777, p. 100). The Society justified its prohibition on beating victims on two grounds: one empirical, the other theoretical.


Chest Compression Psychological Level Abdominal Compression Resuscitative Protocol Muscular Irritability 
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© John Anthony Tercier 2005

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  • John Anthony Tercier

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