Whorton, James C(lifton) 1942-
WHORTON, James C(lifton) 1942-
PERSONAL: Born October 31, 1942, in Bayboro, NC; son of Charles C. (a machinist) and Margaret (Brite) Whorton; married Sue Moseley (a teacher), December 21, 1963; children: Adrian. Education: Duke University, B.S. (magna cum laude), 1964; University of Wisconsin—Madison, Ph.D., 1969. Politics: "Apolitical."
ADDRESSES: Office—Department of Biomedical History, University of Washington, A-204J Health Sciences Bldg., Seattle, WA 98195. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Professor, lecturer, and writer. University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, instructor in biomedical history, 1970-74, assistant professor in biomedical history, 1974-77, associate professor of biomedical history, 1977-83, professor of medical history and ethics, 1983—. Also adjunct professor in the University of Washington's Department of History and affiliate of the University of Washington's Nutritional Sciences Graduate Program. University of Wisconsin, School of Pharmacy, visiting professor, 1977. National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, member of the Grant Review Panel, 1993-95. Has held many positions in committees and other groups at the University of Washington School of Medicine, including member of the Health Sciences Library Advisory Committee, 1972-74; member of the Medical School Admissions Committee, 1974-88, 1989-90, 1991-92, 1993-94, 1996-99; member of the University Faculty Senate, 1975-77; member of the Executive Committee of the Medical School Admissions Committee, 1977-88, 1989-90, 1991-92, 1993-94, 1996-99, 2001-02; member of the Advisory Committee, Minority Affairs Program of the Medical School, 1982-87; member of the Humanities/Social Sciences Committee, Association of American Medical Colleges, General Professional Education of the Physician Project (GPEP), 1983; member of the Medical School Basic Science Heads, 1985-87; member of the Medical School Executive Committee, 1985-87; acting chair of the Department of Medical History and Ethics, 1985-87, 1995-96, 1999; member of the Medical School Student Progress Committee, 1988-89; and member of the ISMS Committee, 1992-93.
MEMBER: American Association for the History of Medicine (member of Program Committee, 1980-81; council member, 1987-89, member of the Committee on Conflict of Interest, 1988-89; member of the Committee on Annual Meetings, 1989-92; chair of Local Arrangements Committee, 1990-92; member of Nominating Committee, 1992-94; and chair of Continuing Lifetime Achievement Committee, 1996-97), American Institute of the History of Pharmacy (member of the Committee on Teaching the History of Pharmacy, 1979-80; member of the Advisory Panel to the Director, 1981-82; chair of the Awards Committee, 1985-91, and 2001-02; council member, 1988-90; chair of the Nominating Committee, 1991-92; member of the Program Committee, 1993-94; member of the Awards Committee, 1998-99), Phi Beta Kappa.
AWARDS, HONORS: Texaco scholarship, Duke University, 1960-64; Merck Index Award, Duke University, 1964; National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship, 1965-69; Josiah Macy, Jr., Foundation postdoctoral fellow in the history of medicine, 1969-70; Department of Biomedical History fellow, University of Washington School of Medicine, 1969-70; National Institutes of Health grants, 1975-79, 1990-92; Sonnedecker Residency Program fellowship, American Institute of the History of Pharmacy, 1989.
Crusaders for Fitness: The History of American Health Reformers, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1982.
(Editor, with John Parascandola) Chemistry and Modern Society: Historical Essays in Honor of Aaron J. Ihde, American Chemical Society (Washington, DC), 1983.
Contributor to periodicals such as the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, British Medical Journal, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Chemtech, Journal of the American Medical Association, Journal of Complementary Health Practice, Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, Journal of Sport History, King County Medical Society Bulletin, Pharmacy in History, Physics Teacher, and the Western Journal of Medicine.
Contributor to several books, including History of Hygiene, edited by Yoko Kawakita, Shizu Shakai, and Yasuo Otsuka, Ishiyaku Euro America, 1991; The Cambridge World History of Human Disease, edited by Kenneth Kiple, Cambridge University Press, 1993; Encyclopedia of Bioethics, 2nd edition, Volume 1, edited by Warren Reich, Macmillan, 1995; The History of Pharmacy: A Selected Annotated Bibliography, edited by Gregory Higby and Elaine Stroud, Garland, 1995; Encyclopedia of Complementary Health Care, edited by Carolyn Clark, Springer, 1999; Essentials of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, edited by Wayne Jonas and Jeffrey Levin, Lippincott, Williams, and Wilkins, 1999; The Cambridge History of Food (World volume), edited by Kenneth Kiple and Kriemhild Ornelas, Cambridge University Press, 2000; Vegetarian Nutrition, edited by Joan Sabate, CRC Press, 2001; The Encyclopedia of Bioethics, Macmillan Reference USA, 2003; The Politics of Healing, edited by Robert Johnston, Routledge, 2004; Social Issues: An Encyclopedia of Controversies, History, and Debates, edited by James Ciment, East River Books, in press; and The Iron Game, in press.
Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, member of the Editorial Board, 1986-89; Complementary Health Practice Review, member of the Advisory Board, 2000-02; Western Journal of Medicine, editor of the "Looking Back" section, 2001-02; and Bulletin of the History of Medicine, member of the Editorial Advisory Board, 2001-02.
SIDELIGHTS: James C. Whorton, who has taught at the University of Washington School of Medicine for over thirty years, is a recognized expert in the field of biomedical history. One of his earlier works, Chemistry and Modern Society: Historical Essays in Honor of Aaron J. Ihde, is a compilation of essays written by students and admirers of the late Aaron J. Ihde, a respected professor of chemistry, the history of science, and integrated liberal studies. The essays, which span subjects from the beginning of modern chemistry to its industrial and practical uses, were edited by Whorton and colleague John Parascandola. Whorton also contributed an essay to the volume, which P. Thomas Carroll, in a review of the book for Science, dubbed a "hilarious study of the uric acid 'fetish' among turn-of-the-century vegetarians." Carroll stated that Whorton's essay "shows how the concepts of chemistry can promote dietary fads, but also how the subsequent popular notions of nutrition can stimulate new chemical ideas in their turn." Carroll also commented on the entire volume: "More focused than the average festschrift, this compilation constitutes ample testimony to the complexity of the links between chemistry and society, illuminating some of the more salient causal relationships between them during the twentieth century."
In Inner Hygiene: Constipation and the Pursuit of Health in Modern Society, Whorton tackles the unmentionable subject of constipation, examining how it became taboo, how this view has affected the health of individuals, and how dangerous attempts to resolve the problem ultimately made the health worse of many a person. Whorton considers different reasons why certain people are plagued with constipation, including close-quartered urban lifestyles, stress, poor eating habits, and, perhaps the most disturbing of all, overmedicating the problem. He explains how the stigma surrounding bowel movements caused a variety of health problems—both physical and mental—and perpetuated many false beliefs, some of which still persist today.
Among other issues, Inner Hygiene examines how the historical fallacy that every person should make at least one bowel movement a day was likely started—and certainly purveyed—by medical industry quacks and "miracle cure" creators. People who did not move their bowels at this "normal" frequency were suddenly considered irregular. Emphasis for relief was not put on eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly, but on a variety of harmful treatments, including enemas, laxatives, rectal dilators, electrotherapy, and even dangerous surgical procedures in which the "trouble-some" part of the colon was removed. Another fear instilled in the public was the idea of "autointoxication," or the false belief that feces not immediately excreted could cause cancer. In a review of Inner Hygiene for the Journal of Social History, Jacqueline S. Wilkie remarked, "Whorton ably blends evidence from medical publications, popular journals, advertising, and the files of the American Medical Association's Bureau of Investigation to convincingly show that this was true for the medical profession and others in the business of selling constipation cures."
According to Whorton, perhaps the most seemingly safe, but ultimately dangerous, constipation remedy is the use of laxatives. Whorton elucidates how 1920s laxative companies battered the public with fears and anxieties about constipation, many of which are still perceived today. To entice the public to use their product, these companies covered their medicines with a candy-flavored coating and advertised them as the safest and easiest remedy to constipation. Fearing constipation more than ever, the general public began to rely heavily on laxatives in order to move their bowels on a "healthy" and "regular" basis and without the pain and humiliation involved in some of the other proffered remedies. As a result, many became dependent on the drugs to the point where some could not make a bowel movement without a laxative. Laxative addiction became a common problem and contributed to the overall fear associated with bowel movements and the creation of a "culture of constipation."
"As a first foray into the subject of bowels, Whorton's work is a fine effort," concluded Wilkie in her review. "Wharton's willingness to interject himself into the text as both actor and scholar is a model more of us should follow. It is certainly a must-read for scholars of hygiene and it is bound to make readers acutely aware of the functioning of their own lower intestinal tracts." In the Journal of the American Medical Association, reviewer Micaela Sullivan-Fowler pointed out, "Though [Whorton] does tackle some of the social and cultural implications surrounding his subject, there are areas he has overlooked," such as "Why does bowel regularity remain such an important, yet often clandestine, component of a person's personal health regimen? Why do some people still believe in autointoxication even though it was disproved in 1914?" Sullivan-Fowler did comment, however, that "Whorton's scrutiny of constipation illuminates the rich legacy responsible for our continued fascination with intestinal regularity."
Whorton's Nature Cures: The History of Alternative Medicine in America examines the roots of America's fixation with alternative medicine, including the propagation of medicines from other countries, the methods used to promote various alternative medicines, and the differences between alternative and orthodox methods of treating and preventing illness. In Nature Cures, Whorton delves into the roots, theories, and effectiveness of alternative medical treatments such as homeopathy, acupuncture, Thomsonianism, osteopathy, hydrotherapy, mesmerism, and even chiropractic practices considered separate from mainstream medicine. According to one Kirkus Reviews contributor, "Whorton gives these and other therapies a historic context, relating them to the political thought and social movement of their times." Whorton does not seek to discount or advocate these various treatments, but rather to foster understanding of how they came to be, why some were adopted, and how they relate to the orthodox medicinal practices of today.
In a Booklist review, William Beatty called Nature Cures a "well-documented history." Likewise, the aforementioned Kirkus Reviews contributor felt Nature Cures offers "a lively, entertaining, and well-documented introduction to the history of medicine in the United States over the past two centuries." Library Journal contributor Andy Wickens called the book a "through, enjoyable, and rigorous" account of the subject and thought Whorton offered the sentiment that future health treatments "will allow for a more conciliatory system of integrative medicine."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Whorton, James C., Inner Hygiene: Constipation and the Pursuit of Health in Modern Society, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2000.
American Historical Review, October, 1983, review of Crusaders for Fitness: The History of American Health Reformers, p. 1066; June, 2001, review of Inner Hygiene: Constipation and the Pursuit of Health in Modern Society, p. 936.
Booklist, September 1, 2002, William Beatty, review of Nature Cures: The History of Alternative Medicine in America, p. 35.
Choice, December, 1982, review of Crusaders for Fitness, p. 600.
Isis, March, 2004, Margaret Humphreys, review of Nature Cures, p. 170.
Journal of American Studies, December, 1984, review of Crusaders for Fitness, p. 486.
Journal of Social History, spring, 2002, Jacqueline S. Wilkie, review of Inner Hygiene, pp. 746-748.
Journal of Southern History, May, 1983, review of Crusaders for Fitness, p. 336.
Journal of the American Medical Association, February 21, 2001, Micaela Sullivan-Fowler, review of Inner Hygiene, p. 943.
Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 1982, review of Crusaders for Fitness, p. 791; July 1, 2002, review of Nature Cures, pp. 943-944.
Library Journal, August, 1982, review of Crusaders for Fitness, p. 1474; September 1, 2002, Andy Wickens, review of Nature Cures, p. 202.
Religious Studies Review, April, 1984, review of Crusaders for Fitness, p. 195.
Reviews in American History, December, 1983, review of Crusaders for Fitness, p. 505.
Science, July 20, 1984, P. Thomas Carroll, review of Chemistry and Modern Society: Historical Essays in Honor of Aaron J. Ihde, p. 306.
Wilson Quarterly, winter, 1983, review of Crusaders for Fitness, p. 136.
Salon.com, http://www.salon.com/ (January 16, 2003), Andreas Killen, "Constipation = Civilization," review of Inner Hygiene.
Washington University, http://www.washington.edu/ (April 13, 2004), "Department of Medical History and Ethics: James C. Whorton, Ph.D."*