A selection of images from High Frequency Electric Currents in Medicine and Dentistry (1910) by champion of electro-therapeutics Samuel Howard Monell, a physician who the American X-Ray Journal cite, rather wonderfully, as having “done more for static electricity than any other living man”.
Although the use of electricity to treat physical ailments could be seen to stretch back to the when the ancient Greeks first used live electric fish to numb the body in pain, it wasn’t until the 18th and 19th centuries – through the work of Luigi Galvani and Guillaume Duchenne – that the idea really took hold.
Monell claims that his high frequency currents of electricity could treat a variety of ailments, including acne, lesions, insomnia, abnormal blood pressure, depression, and hysteria.
Although not explicitly delved into in this volume, the treatment of this latter condition in women was frequently achieved at this time through the use of an early form of the vibrator (to save the physician from the manual effort), through bringing the patient to “hysterical paroxysm” (in other words, an orgasm).
These days electrotherapy has been widely accepted in the field of physical rehabilitation, and also made the news recently in its use to keep soldiers awake (the treatment of fatigue also being one of Monell’s applications).