Medicine: Kappers Cures

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At the opening of the lecture amphitheatre of the College of Physicians and Surgeons in the Medical Centre, Manhattan, a little old Dutchman, Professor C. W. Ariens Kappers, got up to talk. He began immediately to use the names of mysterious and exotic sicknesses—African Sleeping Sickness and how it had been cured by Bayer, malaria injections and how they helped general paralysis (TIME, April 2. June 4). For several minutes Professor Kappers stressed the past success of quiet cures wrought in maniacs and melancholies by somnifen injections over a period of 14 days. Somnifen produces a hypnotic sleep in which there is loss of consciousness, but no relaxation of reflexes. The patient can therefore be roused to take nourishment, attend to physical needs, etc., dropping off to sleep again as soon as he is left alone. It has been used to bring on "twilight sleep" in obstetrics.

Of prehistoric brain surgery Anatomist Kappers reminisced, "It is even probable that the trephine holes found in prehistoric skulls 50,000 years old were made for curative purposes. A short time ago the aborigines of some Pacific islands still exercised a similar practice, making holes in their skulls with sharp shells to cure chronic headaches." He mentioned briefly his own theory of neurobiotaxis which considers the brain as a functioning organ and attempts to explain its complexities in terms of work. This done, Anatomist Kappers eulogized U. S. neurologists and neurosurgeons for their advance in the treatment of tumours and abscesses of the nervous system. Then he spoke briefly but gravely of the use of nicotine: "The abuse of nicotine has a severe effect upon the nervous system of the intestines and blood vessels, paralysing the postganglionic neurones, leading to hallucinations and weakening of energy. . . ."

In this statement, Anatomist Kappers cast doubt on current notions about nicotine. Many U. S. doctors have contended and often hoped to prove that smoking does no harm. In Newark, N. J., five children of the Fillimon family have been smoking full-sized cigars since the age of two. The oldest, Frank, 11, now averages five cigars a day. All of these children appear healthy, go to school regularly, get good grades.