The tragic life of a real "elephant man"

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1 year ago

Born in 1862 in Leicester, Britain, Joseph Merrick quickly became known by the nickname “elephant man” because as a child he developed a disease that made his skin thick and lumpy. His lips enlarged, and the bone mass began to grow on his forehead on its own. His feet as well as one arm were also enlarged, and the biggest problem was that the disease itself was a mystery until 1986 - almost a hundred years after his death.

Joseph was born healthy and showed no physical deformities, and he had three other brothers, all of whom died in childhood - one from measles, another from scarlet fever, and a third from a seizure. Joseph's mother also died of some physical deformity when the boy was nine years old, suggesting a genetic predisposition to various disorders.

And the family gave him up

And before his mother died, little Joseph developed an unusual appearance, and once he fell and broke his hip, it resulted in a permanent “bone laziness,” as they then called it. At the age of 13, he dropped out of school because of his physical appearance and teasing at his expense, and he couldn’t even find a job. Joseph’s father who found a new wife banished the monster son from the house.

The only way to make money was to attract attention with his looks, which he achieved by performing with English showman Sam Torre. He performed at a bar across the street from a London hospital, so he was frequently visited by surgeon Frederick Treves, who eventually invited him for an examination and a photo shoot. He did so, but soon went on a tour of Europe where he was robbed. There he ended up with no coins in his pocket on the streets of the unknown city of Brussels. Fortunately, the police found him and although he could not communicate with them - that is, he had difficulty speaking due to deformities, they found Dr. Treves' business card with him and contacted him and sent Merrick back to the hospital in London.

Dr. Treves

He died because he wanted to sleep "like normal people"

His illness at the time was a completely unknown and unseen diagnosis, so absolutely no one knew how to treat it. Still, doctors allowed him to stay in the hospital for the rest of his life, and the elephant-man soon became close to the medical staff and doctors who visited him daily. They had a lot of sympathy for him because Merrick was extremely embarrassed by his own appearance, but also by the stench caused by his condition. Hospital expenses for him were covered from donations, and his health gradually deteriorated and doctors did not know how to help him.

Merrick died in 1890 at the age of only 27 years. Choking is cited as the official cause of his death, but after Dr. Treves performed an autopsy, he determined that Merrick had died from a dislocated neck. Merrick had to sleep sitting up because of the weight of his own head, and Treves believed he probably tried to sleep like all normal people, lying down, so he suffocated because of it.

His illness remained a mystery until 1986, when scientists concluded that Merrick had the so-called Proteus syndrome, a very rare congenital disorder. They came to this realization after analyzing his bones and hair, preserved in a hospital tomb.

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Avatar for ceky321
1 year ago