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Care and Coercion: medical knowledge, social policy and patients with venereal disease in Sweden 1785-1903
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Demographic Data Base.
1999 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This study investigates the history of venereal diseases in Sweden in the period from 1785 to 1903. Medical and political perceptions of these diseases as well as the patients and their continued lives have been studied. Venereal diseases were considered a significant threat to the growth of the population throughout the period. They were recognised through the dramatic sores that they produced on the body of the patient, and were frequently cured with mercurial therapies. In the late nineteenth century, syphilis and gonorrhoea became the two most significant sexually transmitted diseases. They were believed to cause paralysis, mental illness, infant mortality and infertility.

Sweden fought venereal diseases with a network of State-controlled health measures. County hospitals that contained special wards for patients diagnosed with venereal diseases were established in the late eighteenth century. These hospitals were financed by mandatory revenue after 1817. Medical care was mandatory and ministers, law officers and heads of households could inform the provincial physicians about the incidence of venereal disease. During the nineteenth century, the regulation of prostitution was enforced which implied that women were blamed for the spread of these diseases.

Patients with venereal disease belonged to a cross section of contemporary Swedish society. Most of them were from the lower- or working-classes. They suffered higher age-specific mortality in the first half of the century, and high infant mortality throughout the period. It appears, however, that the constructed image of a patient with venereal disease had little impact upon their lives. Contemporary poverty and societal problems, such as unemployment and poor housing, probably played a larger part in their lives.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet , 1999. , 309 p.
Report from the Demographic Data Base, ISSN 0349-5132 ; 14
Keyword [en]
Medical history, demography, patient-records, diagnostics, therapeutics, social policy, venereal disease, life-course, Sweden, 19th century
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-15000ISBN: 91-7191-675-XOAI: diva2:154672
Available from: 2007-06-25 Created: 2007-06-25 Last updated: 2012-09-21Bibliographically approved

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