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A fierce battle between the supporters of John Brown (Bruno), in favour of treatment with stimulants, and those of F.J.V. Broussais, in favour of bloodletting. Pen drawing.

About this work


In the early nineteenth century there were several rival medical systems, including Brunonianism, the system of Broussais, phrenology and homoeopathy, in addition to variations on traditional western medicine. Brunonianism, the theory of John Brown (1735-1788), regarded most illnesses as due to a deficit of stimulation, requiring treatment with medicines based on opium or alcohol. In France, François Joseph Victor Broussais (1772-1838) proposed a theory of irritability which was to be controlled by purging and especially bloodletting. Brown acquired a European reputation, especially after his death. Broussais tried to ridicule Brown and his followers in many of his verbose writings. The short-lived success of their competing systems illustrates the fatal attractiveness of over-simple theories. This drawing, probably by a French or German hand, shows a battle between the rival partisans of Brown (on the left) and Broussais (on the right): they are identified by military standards (flags) inscribed "Brown" (left) and "Broussai" (right)

Physical description

1 drawing : pen and ink ; image 35.4 x 45.2 cm


Wellcome Library no. 24101i


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