Joseph Merrick A.K.A. The Elephant Man

Joseph Merrick was born on August 5, 1862, in Leicester, England, to two working-class parents. He was probably a healthy child, a relief to his mother, who lost two of her four children to disease in infancy. However, things changed when Merrick approached the age of five, when his lips began to swell and he developed large bumps on his forehead that were hard, often said to look like elephant skin. Over time, his right hand also began to grow larger and bumpier, with similarly rough and thick skin. Although other school children abandoned him, his mother noticed him and did her best to save him from the cruelty of the world. Sadly, he had his own disability which was not properly recorded at the time and died when Merrick was only 11 years old.

His father's new wife was not so impressed with the rapidly deforming boy and made it a rule that he must contribute to the finances of the household or take leave. He dropped out of school and worked for some time in a cigar shop, but soon his right hand became so large that any kind of physical labor became impossible. He wandered from workhouse to workhouse, but eventually had to do what many people with less general physical disabilities did at the time and attended a "human novelties" exhibition, commonly known as a "freak show". Is.

While never wealthy, Merrick made enough money to travel around to support himself, being marketed as a "half-man, half-elephant" curiosity. Eventually, he descended into a more secure life as a sole curiosity in a shop on Whitechapel Road, across the street from the research-oriented Royal London Hospital. Occasionally, students and doctors showed up to see him; A prominent surgeon, Frederick Treves, remembered Merrick as "the most disgusting specimen of humanity I had ever seen". By this point, her mysterious condition had affected all parts of her body except her upper left torso, left arm, and genitalia.

Despite the shock his physical appearance often generated, many people had sympathy for Merrick, and the British attitude towards freak shows was beginning to change. Although the Curiosity racket was a nightmare of exploitation, its end ironically put unemployed people like Merrick out of work, and they were left to fend for themselves on the streets. He was eventually to be rescued by the police from the horrific gawkers that crowded around him.

Due to his illness, Merrick had great difficulty speaking, but the police got Dr. Treves, who retrieved him and set him in a secluded part of the hospital, where he could live peacefully, away from other patients. Of course, it was an incredibly lonely life, and in spending time with Merrick, Treves learned that he had no communication with any woman other than his late mother. Hoping to mend his broken self-esteem, he invites a young widowed friend of his to visit Merrick and tell him about his unique situation. As expected, Merrick's spirits were lifted, as she was apparently the first woman to ever shake the hand of a so-called elephant man. They remained friends for life, and soon, their unique struggle was discussed in English high society.

Charitable donations were made to pay for her care, and Merrick began receiving visitors, once even hosting Princess Alexandra of Wales in her small hospital apartment. Merrick wanted to be treated like a normal person more than anything, and at the end of his life, he had to fulfill his lifelong dream of going to the theater as a guest (even though he had to sit in a private box). was made for, away from the crowd). However, this wish ended Merrick's life at the age of 27, when he tried to sleep lying down, which Treves had forbidden because of his head and shoulder abnormalities. This experiment unfortunately left him suffocating in his sleep. Although his body was studied at the Royal London Hospital without a formal diagnosis, modern professionals suspect that he had a severe case of Proteus syndrome.

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