Genius on the Edge

Monday, March 01, 2010

Surgeon Dr. Gerald Imber talks about the doctor who invented modern surgery in the nineteenth century, the brilliant but haunted William Stewart Halsted. Genius on the Edge: The Bizarre Double Life of Dr. William Stewart Halsted is a biography of the man who took surgery from a dangerous practice to what is now a lifesaving art, despite being addicted to both cocaine and morphine for forty years of his life.


Dr. Gerald Imber

Comments [2]

Stratos G Kantounis MD FACS from Rockville Centre, NY

I am a general surgeon, trained at Bellevue Dr. Cranston Holman, brother of Dr. Emil Holman, who was one of Dr. Halsted's first residents at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.
I am involved in the training of surgical residents and though Halsted is considered the Father of Modern Surgical TrainingI many of them never heard of Halsted. What a pity!
The rubber gloves that we use were attributed to Love rather than science since Dr.Halsteds OR Nurse was allergic to the carbolic acid used to bathe the hands before surgery...and as such was about to retire from the OR. Halsted asked his friend, BF Goodrich to devise rubber gauntlets for her...which he did. Halsted was in love with her and eventually married her.

Mar. 02 2010 06:16 PM
Gerald Fnord

Despite its demonisation, morphine is well-tolerated and should not affect a physician's judgement if she exercises awareness of when its effects are strongest. Cocaine is another matter: I would surprised if he spent decades as a responsible user under its effects, unless perhaps he balanced its mania with the morphine, a dicey proposition even for a brilliant physician.

Mar. 01 2010 11:24 AM

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