The Afflictions of Man

address-toothache-rawscanFOR ALL THEIR STRENGTH and courage, men are subject to many strange and startling debilities to which womankind appears impervious. It is in fact most often because of their greater size, intellect and vitality that men fall victim to those illnesses seen rarely amongst females.

These differences can be seen from the first moments of life, as the male foetus, being larger than the female, is necessarily requiring of more nutrients and is more susceptible to deficiencies in the constitution or circumstance of the mother. This is most commonly observed under conditions of childbirth, wherein the male offspring endures greater difficulty due to their larger cranium. As the head is the receptacle for that most important organ, the brain, any damage sustained to the male infant during birth could be the cause of fragility or disease in the later stages of life.

MAN might think himself the stronger of the sexes, but MOTHER NATURE has cursed him with terrible weakness…” 

Once he has come forth into the world, the young male grows much more slowly than his female brethren. It is well known that the female condition is defined by the storing of nutriment, while the male condition draws from consumption. As such, the young man is more resilient in poorer conditions where food and warmth may be scarce. However, as civilised societies move towards a greater livelihood in cities with plentiful resources, the female youths are favoured in growth and number over the males, leading to a disproportion in the balance of the sexes.

Man is undoubtedly most fortitudinous and resilient during the prime years of adulthood. Yet still there are some diseases to which he is especially prone. In the matter of fever, men are not often more afflicted than women and yet suffer more intensely and with greater chance of expiry. In like fashion are men more likely to succumb to consumption, particularly when confined for hospice care.

dance-death-frontispiece-rawscan_webOn a lesser note, just as members of the female sex do exclusively develop hysteria, so does man suffer uniquely from hypochondriasis, that condition where complaint of physical ailment is consistent and automatic yet no physician can detect infirmity. This occurs with regularity during the middle time of life. Men of this age may also more often be stricken with emphysalgia or genteel-ache, a harmless but unsavoury condition which begets a raising of the breast, eyebrow and nose and, at advanced stages, may cause the sufferer to forsake his former acquaintances and indulge in intemperate habits and wealth unbefitting his station.

As man approaches the end of life, here too does he suffer from various maladies that spare the fairer sex. Those who experience the fog and confusion of advanced age, particularly if they have indulged in intemperate or debauched habits during their youth, can be susceptible to cerebral paralysis, whereby a softening of the grey matter leads to an often fatal loss of motility in the tongue, throat and limbs. The older man is also predisposed to paralysis of the bladder through decay of the vesical nerves.


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  2. Healairs D. Of the Emphysalgia, or Genteel-ache. The Belfast Monthly Magazine 1810; 4 (23): 408-411.
  3. Second Report of the Committee of the Statistical Society of London on Hospital Statistics. Journal of the Statistical Society of London 1844; 7 (3): 214-231.
  4. Thomas WI. On a Difference in the Metabolism of the Sexes. American Journal of Sociology 1897; 3 (1): 31-63.
  5. Thomson AS. A Statistical Enquiry on Fever. Journal of the Statistical Society of London 1838; 1(5): 278-279.
  6. Worthington AW. On the Unequal Proportion Between the Male and Female Population of Some Manufacturing and Other Towns. Journal of the Statistical Society of London 1867; 30 (1): 68-79.


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Kieran Manion

Design Director
Kieran Manion is a senior PhD student studying the breakdown of B cell tolerance in systemic lupus erythematosus in the Department of Immunology at the University of Toronto. In her spare time, she practises using digital platforms for general artwork and graphic design.
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