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Published 2021-10-20
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Elephant Man - 130 Years After His Death They Will Show Dissection Live!

The huge head, tumors covering the skin, and severe deformities caused Joseph Merrick to be called the Elephant Man. He was treated as a freak of nature and a monster. People in the streets fled at the sight of him, and the only place where he could find work and earn money for food was the circus. Merrick became the centerpiece of a freak show where every day of his life was marked by harassment, ridicule, and finger-pointing. Despite the fact that he left this world almost 130 years ago, in recent days he is again in the limelight because he is going to be the main attraction of the event called Dinner And Dissection. During it, guests will have the opportunity to see the Elephant Man dissection with their own eyes, and this has enraged thousands of people who are signing a petition to prevent the event from taking place. For what purpose was it decided to hold the controversial dinner? Why should Joseph Merrick be the key attraction? What is the story behind the Elephant Man, who also inspired David Lynch's famous 1980 film? Read to the end and learn about his sad fate.

Joseph Merrick - Mother attacked by an elephant?

The case of Joseph Merrick is one of the greatest medical mysteries in history. When he was alive, it was argued that his body deformities were caused by an accident his mother suffered while pregnant. The woman was said to have been the victim of elephant aggression during a visit to an amusement park, and the trauma of the accident subsequently contributed to genetic mutations in her unborn child. Today, doctors are highly skeptical of such theories. While it is a fact that Merrick suffered from a genetic condition, it was certainly not caused by the elephant attack. Then by what? Read on to find out.

Joseph Merrick - Disease

Initially, it was concluded that the lesions on the man's body to neurofibromatosis type 1, which causes tumors on nerve tissues. Subsequent studies, however, argued that they were the result of a condition called Proteus syndrome and associated with excessive bone and skin hypertrophy. This theory, however, was debunked in 2003 by Ohio doctors who conducted a more detailed genetic study of the Elephant Man's remains. So what was wrong with him? Well, so far it is unknown! It didn't help at all to find contemporary relatives from his family to collect DNA samples that doctors thought could help identify the disease. Merrick is still a medical mystery, and his deformities are the result of mutations never before encountered.

Joseph Merrick - Childhood

The first symptoms of the disease appeared when Joseph was 3 years old. Although it is worth noting that when he was born on August 5, 1862, there was no indication that he would have health problems. And yet. First, the child's lips began to swell, then the first tumor appeared on his forehead, which grew at an alarming rate. By the time he was 5, Merrick was severely deformed, not only on his face but also throughout his body. His feet were enlarged and misshapen, one hand was twice the size of the other, and there were growths and masses on his skin. Over time, additional problems added up. Read on to find out what they were.

Joseph Merrick - Family

No one could prevent the changes on the boy's body, and his poor mother had no money to pay for the advice of more specialists. But she gave her child the best care she could. That is why her death was a great blow to the several-year-old boy, which set off further dramas. The father remarried, and the stepmother could not hide her disgust with her stepson. She demanded that he start working as a teenager and pay for his own upkeep in the family home. Joseph took up door-to-door trading from the age of 13, but his appearance only deterred customers, so he quickly lost his job. His closest family treated him like a crutch, and on top of that, his father did not spare any violence against his son. The only salvation from such treatment was to run away from home. Fortunately, there was someone sympathetic to Joseph. It was an uncle, Charles Merrick, who took care of the boy for several years, but when he ran out of money to support him, he was forced to send his nephew to an asylum.

Joseph Merrick - Elephant Man

Joseph lived in filth and poverty, and his disabled body made it impossible to do any physical work. He would only leave his room after dark because, during the day, people on the street would often run away screaming at the sight of his oversized head and the tumors covering his skin. He soon realized that the only way to earn money for food was to work in the circus, in freak shows popular at the time. He applied to Tom Norman, the owner of one such amusement park, and was immediately hired. During his performances, he has nicknamed the Elephant Man because his appearance was associated with that animal. It was then that word began to spread that the mutations came from an accident with an elephant, and Merrick became the main attraction of the circus.

Joseph Merrick - Freak show attraction

Participation in the show gave Merrick a good income because people crowded to watch the ‘freak’. So he earned money at the cost of humiliation and shame. Through the show, he also met the man who finally changed his life for the better. It was Dr. Frederick Treves. When one day he saw a poster in the streets of London advertising a show featuring the Elephant Man, he went to see it with his own eyes the same day. It was the first time in his life that he had come across such a deformed person, so immediately after the show, he offered Joseph help and a medical examination.

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Joseph Merrick - Dr. Frederick Treves helps the Elephant Man

Joseph gladly accepted Treves' offer but did not visit the doctor many times, as he was forced to go on a European tour with the circus. According to the contract, he was the property of the owner, and the owner mercilessly cheated him during the performances in Belgium. Merrick lost all his savings and only miraculously escaped starvation. He managed to return to London, where he again found Dr. Treves. It is said that in time a true friendship was born between the men, and the doctor provided the patient with a roof over his head and peace of mind. The Elephant Man took up residence in one of the hospital rooms, and his case was publicized in the medical community, resulting in many donations for the care of the tragically afflicted man.

Joseph Merrick - Death of the Elephant Man

Treves was never able to discover what caused his patient's mutation. Joseph's body was 90% covered with tumors, moving caused physical pain, and one of his legs, unnaturally thickened, refused to obey. He had to sleep sitting up because in any other position the deformities on his head put too much strain on his cervical vertebrae. His great dream, however, was to go to bed like any other person. He finally achieved this dream, but at the cost of his life, because on April 11, 1890, he left this world when, during sleep, his enormous head was placed at an incorrect angle and led to a twisted neck.

Elephant Man still being treated like an exhibit

The Elephant Man lived only 27 years and only before his death was he treated with dignity. Thanks to Dr. Treves, many celebrities such as the Princess of Wales visited him in the hospital, showing comfort and support. There have been many voices against freak shows, which strike at the dignity of sick and disabled people exposed to ridicule. However, even though more than 130 years have passed since Joseph Merrick's death, he may once again become the main character of the "modern freak show". This is the name of the Dinner And Dissection event, during which a live dissection of the Elephant Man is to be performed. How is that possible? Check out the next page...

via GIPHY

Elephant Man - Dinner And Dissection

The Dinner And Dissection event, organized by ITAE Productions and its founder Sam Piri, is to be a sort of combination of a sumptuous dinner and a show where attendees, after paying a fee of £100, will have the opportunity to learn more about Joseph Merrick's anatomical condition. A silicone replica of his body, filled with real animal organs, is to be created for this purpose and, according to the organizers, the dissection will “offer the chance for healthcare professionals, NHS staff, students, and those with an interest to travel back in time to learn how The Victorian Greats unlocked the secrets to the human body”.

Petition Against Dinner And Dissection

Not everyone welcomed this idea for Dinner And Dissection with enthusiasm. A special petition was created against hosting the event by Karen Diamond, the mother of 2-year-old Willow, who suffers from mutations similar to Joseph Merrick's. As reported by the Indy100 website, Diamond said that "disabilities should not be used to generate income." She called the event "absolutely disgusting" and confessed that her heart breaks at the thought that "in a circus tent" people would be eating and drinking while watching a dissection. The issue has spread far and wide, and at this point, more than 10,000 people have signed the petition. People are sharing criticisms via social media. On Twitter, writer Karl Knights made a post in which he pointed out that the idea of a dinner and a section is "disgusting". He also wrote quoting: "throughout his life, Joseph Merrick has been seen as a spectacle. For over a century, Merrick has been a spectacle. This event is straight out of PT Barnum and is disgusting." And there are many more similar opinions. A petition on Change.org calls for an end to the exploitation of people with disabilities, and Sam Piri, the organizer of Dinner and Dissection, said in response to the controversy that "there is no basis for censoring real history and teaching people about it from an academic perspective."

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