Origine du prénom Christine (Oeuvres courtes) (French Edition)

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But this disciplinary agenda and its associated boundary work was challenged by the controversies on animal experimentation, to be discussed in the next section. Orfila's book contained chapters on all the groups of important poisons. Orfila offered a brief description of the symptoms of each poison, its main antidotes, how to treat cases of poisoning listing the medicines, doses, the order in which they should be taken, and so on and guidelines for recognizing the different poisons and distinguishing them from other substances for instance, in the case of mineral poisons, by using selective chemical tests.

The last part of the book included a discussion on cases of asphyxia by drowning, hanging, or by inhaling certain vapours , with a special section on apparent death. After a brief section on burns, Orfila ended the book with a chapter on adulterated wines: he outlined the various fraudulent methods used to improve their strength, or change their odour or colour and ways of detecting them mostly by chemical tests. As already noted, the book contains a great deal of sanguine criticism of popular health practices and quackery. But in many other cases Orfila's criticism was aimed at physicians, surgeons, and pharmacists who used drugs which he regarded as useless or even dangerous.

But the most controversial part of Orfila's book was the section on antidotes. Swift administration of the right antidote was crucial to the survival of the victim. Because most antidotes were only really effective if administered very soon, they usually had to be applied by the victims themselves or by their relatives or friends, that is, by lay people who needed precise instructions concerning the quantities required, the procedure, and the effects.

But there was no general agreement among the French medical community on the antidotes that should be used for each poison, their effectiveness, and the correct doses. Therefore, when proposing his own antidotes, Orfila was obliged to challenge many of the suggestions put forward by his medical colleagues:.

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Before speaking of the treatment of poisoned persons, we shall examine, under the title of Counter-poisons , those substances which have been regarded as such by several physicians: we shall reject such as are useless or dangerous, and recommend only those the efficacy of which has been demonstrated by reiterated experiments. Indeed, animal experiments and their use in medicine was a controversial issue in Orfila's time.

Quoting other publications, Bertrand challenged the reliability of Orfila's experiments with recourse to two arguments that were often used against animal experimentation: the differences between animal and human physiology and the effects of the ligature of the oesophagus, the method used by Orfila to prevent the animal from vomiting the poison. The major attack on Orfila's method came from Antoine Portal, an influential representative of the Paris clinical school, who worked in clinical medicine, pathological anatomy and physical diagnosis and, as mentioned above, had also published a popular book on first aid in asphyxias and accidental poisoning.

After discussing the clinical symptoms and anatomical damage produced by poisons, Portal suggested a general procedure for all the poisons: emetics and purgative enema should be applied if the poison had been swallowed recently, as the main purpose was to expel it. Portal preferred this treatment to the allegedly specific antidotes because the efficacy of the latter substances had been proved only in animal experiments or in chemical test-tubes, not in humans—and that, as a result, they might be useless or even potentially harmful.

Portal doubted that data based on chemical analysis and animal experimentation were reliable enough to justify the introduction of new antidotes for poisons and the replacement of old, well-tested general treatments.

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In the second edition of Secours , Orfila acknowledged that some of the antidotes in question had been introduced only very recently, and that he himself had been responsible for their introduction. Can one seriously say that the results of experiments with antidotes are worthless because they have been tested on animals alone?

We do not think so; indeed, place lead acetate in a glass, a pot, the stomach of a dog or a man; then, pour over it soda sulphate the antidote to lead salt and, as soon as it comes into contact , the poison will be decomposed, the antidote will have produced all the expected effects; substitute the lead acetate with salts of mercury, or salts of copper, and the soda sulphate with albumin, and a similar effect will be found.

Would we not be surprised, then, to hear that the decomposition of the poison by the antidote takes place in the stomach of a dog and not in the stomach of a man? The controversies on animal experimentation were related to the new image of expert toxicologists a select medical elite of specialists which Orfila was gradually moulding with his publications and research.

His new experimental protocols required a high degree of competence that was usually beyond the scope of local physicians and pharmacists who had been traditionally requested to act as expert witnesses in poisoning trials. In contrast, Parisian experts had laboratory facilities for animal experimentation and cadavers for autopsies, and so the new toxicological methods clearly favoured the role of the Parisian medical elite over local physicians and pharmacists in courtrooms.

In this context it is no surprise that controversies on the role of experiments in toxicology reached the courtrooms. In fact, since his very first publications on toxicology, Orfila had always pointed out the differences between the conditions of the laboratory and those of real life. Apart from the first edition, between and several translations of Orfila's book were published in other European countries see the table at the end of this paper.

These consisted of two English editions including two American reprints , three German translations one of them published in Hungary , 78 four Italian, one Danish and one Spanish. In , a new version of R H Black's English translation became available.

Popularizing Controversial Science: A Popular Treatise on Poisons by Mateu Orfila ()

The swift publication of the translations some of which came out in the same year as the first edition can hardly be attributed to the fame of Orfila. Many other authors, like those mentioned in the first section, published similar books but did not reach such a large international audience in such a brief period of time. There are several clues that suggest that Orfila actively contributed to this process. We know that he sent his book to several English booksellers and editors just a few days after the publication of the French edition. Like Price, many other first translators may have been in contact in some way with Orfila.

The Italian translator, Carlo Porta, was a member of the Paris Medical Society who had recently published a paper on poisoning with opium in the Society's journal. He had been on a study trip to Italy and France in and , and it may be that he was in contact with Orfila or even attended some of his lectures.

Two of the German translators—J A Roschet and Peter Gottlieb Brosse, an apothecary—did not publish any major scientific work, while the other two translators had teaching positions in chemistry or medicine. In , Schuster was appointed professor of natural history, chemistry and botany at the University of Pest, where he also taught legal medicine and pharmacology.

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He published several papers and books on drugs and chemicals opium, iodine, iron, and so on and translated other medical books apart from Orfila's Secours. John had also studied with Klaproth and became professor of chemistry and pharmacy at Berlin, publishing a great many papers on experimental chemistry mostly on plant and animal chemistry , several chemistry textbooks and a celebrated volume of tables on plant analyses, which had been translated into French and which Orfila had used. The ways in which the translators approached their task differed widely.

Other translators, however, added new chapters, changed sections, revised the terminology, offered additional bibliographic orientation, included new images or added notes that expanded on or criticized the original text. Some additions were borrowed from similar books on first aid and toxicology. The founders were concerned at the number of people mistaken for dead and, in some cases, buried alive, and they were also interested in methods of reviving the drowned and suffocated; these important topics were both discussed by Orfila in his book.

Stevenson quoted the RHS report but his most important additions were data from chemistry textbooks and materia medica which he had probably used during his studies at Harvard—for instance, John Gorham's chemistry textbook and Jacob Bigelow's books on materia medica. In the French school of medicine, numerous prescriptions yet exist, of very antique origin, when the greater the multitude of ingredients, the more sovereign was the effect expected to be produced; but many of those ingredients being uncommon in England, and, indeed, our late advance in chymical knowledge having proved, that in these heterogeneous compositions, some of the ingredients entirely neutralise others, the Translator has occasionally substituted such more simple medicines as can be generally procured, and as are approved by the London College of Physicians.

This quotation shows the efforts translators made to adapt the book to their local audiences. Of course, the chemical and botanical terminology—particularly the local names of plants—posed enormous problems. Some translators attempted to transform Orfila's terms into local expressions, but sometimes many possible translations were available and ambiguities were common.

In fact, the English translators gave different versions for the same botanical term. In other cases, the overriding issue was the intended audience or the professional background of the translator. As noted above, many communities surgeons, apothecaries, lay people were not up to date with recent developments in chemical terminology, and may not have been particularly interested in the area.

Black, a surgeon, did not provide the new names of chemical substances in his translation. This example illustrates how translators were liable to change the intended audience of the book. By adding more popular terms and removing scientific ones, Black probably sought to make his book more appealing to lay audiences, apothecaries, and surgeons. In other cases, the changes are explicitly reported in the translator's introduction. The translator, however, repeated some of the arguments used by Orfila in his first edition:.

Most of the cases of death by drowning, hanging, and poison, which are daily recorded in the public journals, proceed to their fatal termination only through the ignorance of those who, having the opportunity and the disposition to render aid, are destitute of the requisite means and knowledge. The frequency of these events sufficiently attests the necessity of a work of this kind, freed from technical language , and proposing remedies and means, which are procured and executed with the greatest facility.

The changes introduced by translators could substantially modify important parts of the text, and suggested a broad spectrum of possible interpretations to their different intended audiences.


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In the American translation, Stevenson not only modified Orfila's comments on the intended readership in the introduction, but also the crucial section on the controversial topic of animal experimentation. He removed all critical references to Antoine Portal and to Orfila's defence of experiments on animals, which had been introduced in the second edition. The arguments were similar to those used by Portal and other critics of animal experimentation:. Such trials are illusory and cannot lead to any positive result, nor can they serve to support an accurate comparison, since certain substances which man can employ with perfect safety, exert upon beasts the action of a violent poison; and vice-versa; the efforts that are made to force the animal to swallow, the violence employed to hold him, the ligature made on the oesophagus itself an operation so painful that it may produce death , the mischievous qualities possessed by substances which, though not poisons, may be acrid and caustic, would not all these circumstances have an influence upon the result of the experiment?

Other authors also justified their opposition to animal experimentation on the grounds of the differences between human and animal physiology and anatomy and the unnatural conditions of vivisection experiments. In this paper, we have followed Orfila's Secours on its way from Parisian salons to remote American territories. The broad readership of the book explains why both Orfila and his translators regarded this work as a promising business venture, and indeed this must have been one of the main reasons for its publication and translation.

The success of the book was largely due to the network of personal contacts that Orfila established thanks to his musical ability. But much more difficult to grasp historically is how the life of the salons helped Orfila to obtain credibility, trust and academic power—all crucial ingredients in the public activity of a nineteenth-century toxicologist. However, once it was published, Orfila lost control over the book, particularly when it reached the hands of creative readers and translators. By adding comments, footnotes and new passages, translators could expand the readership, adapt the book to their local audiences, or even blur one of the most important features of the original book, namely the role of experiments as a source of medical knowledge.

Substantially changed by the translator, the book was more open to alternative meanings appropriated by readers in different local contexts, giving rise to a broad range of uses barely foreseen by Orfila—as the different reviews mentioned in this paper suggest. The dissemination of the book coincided with a discussion on the effects of antidotes and the uses of animal experimentation. Controversy was part of the everyday life of nineteenth-century scientists and physicians. Journals, books and the proceedings of scientific sessions are full of examples.

Less, however, has been written about the way in which scientific controversy undermines the public image of science when it reaches a lay audience, as happened in the case that concerns us here. When the non-specialist public discovers that scientists argue with each other it loses faith in them: the scientific community loses credibility and its capacity of influence. From many points of view, early nineteenth-century toxicology is very different from the twentieth-century high-energy physics described by Collins. Toxicologists were not an established professional community made up of experts from similar backgrounds and engaged in similar activities.

This explains the differences in their opinions on the value of clinical data, autopsies, and chemical tests. There was no defined, homogeneous core-set of experts.

FRENCH LITERATURE

Moreover, toxicologists were always exposed to the public, obliged to face lay audiences in many contexts—journals, popular books, trials, newspapers, and so on. The history of Orfila's book shows that, as Ian Burney has remarked, there were frequent exchanges between popular, legal and medical cultures of poisons. Only trained toxicologists could perform accurate experiments and gather new information about the nature of poisons and their best antidotes.

The new experimental protocols required a high degree of competence and access to laboratory resources that were available just to a small group of physicians and pharmacists. With his book, Orfila presented a new image of toxicology based on sophisticated chemical tests and animal experimentation. These pages have shown the complexity of this disciplinary change. As a result, Orfila faced resistance not only from his lay audience but from fellow medical men as well, including some of his translators who introduced many changes, critical remarks, and even opposing views on crucial issues such as animal experimentation.


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The controversies were remarked by many reviewers of the book, who noted the great variety of positions not only on the uses of experiments in medicine but also on the nature of poisons, the reliability of chemical tests, and the usefulness of antidotes and treatments. As in many other parts of early-nineteenth-century medicine and science, toxicology was never a consensual body of authorized knowledge that could be popularized top-down, from the academy to the lay public.

Thus, the success and misfortunes of Orfila's Secours cannot really be understood by means of the diffusionist approach, applied to the transit of knowledge from expert to lay cultures or from the centre to the peripheries. The case analysed here suggests that more attention should be paid to the processes of exchange, appropriation and resistance in toxicology.

The translations were published very soon after the first edition. Between and , two English editions were published, including two American reprints , along with three German translations, three Italian, one Danish and one Spanish. The succeeding editions were less successful, though some translations into other languages were published in the following years.

See The Chemist , , 4 : The last was published in Naples by F Rossi in Carlo Porta con alcune annotazioni del dott. Pietro De Philippis , Naples, Tip. Luca Marotta, See Appendix for more information.