From its introduction to Britain in 1846 until well into the 1860s, the practice of aneasthesia was controversial. The prevailing religious and medical orthodoxies were so challenged by the anaesthetic process that operations continued to be performed without it, while an intense public debate raged. Victorians had to rethink concepts of pain, sexuality, and the symbiosis of mind and body. From this turmoil, a change in attitudes began to be realized, as the view that physical suffering could, and should, be prevented permeated through society, bringing reform of the penal system and legislation to reduce cruelty to animals. The discovery of anaesthesia left not only a medical and scientific legacy that changed the world, but a compassionate one too. Ill.
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Oxford University Press
December 03, 2012
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