Medical Opinions That Harm

Samuel A. Cartwright, a renowned Southern physician, created the medical terms Drapetomania and Dysaesthesia Aethiopica in the 1850s. Dr. Cartwright’s findings were published in medical journals.

According to the New York Times, the good doctor’s conclusions were accepted by some legal authorities, such as the Louisiana courts and their civil code. And the term Drapetomania was listed in a practical medical dictionary in 1914.

What do the terms mean?  Drapetomania is part of two Greek words meaning runaway and crazy. It was Cartwright’s medical opinion of the behavior and symptoms of the enslaved. And when the enslaved held work strikes and broke work tools, that was classified as another mental illness called Dysaesthesia Aethiopica.

Today, the World Health Organization borrows from the Cartwright methodology by using its medical authority to proclaim multiple chemical sensitivity as a psychological disease. Even renaming MCS with the not too subtle name idiopathic environmental illness.

Publications such as The Wall Street Journal have reported on the health issues of tiny doses of common industrial chemicals in everyday products in homes and offices. According to the LA Times, California is ushering in a new law banning natural gas in new residential construction and restaurants for health and environmental reasons. Yet the internet is awash with contradictions on the subject. Biased, generalized misleading language on the subject of MCS is included on some reputable sites as many medical authorities try to stereotype all patients into the same category.

Some experts believe MCS is a physical disease and other authorities claim it is psychological. Even the physician who first identified MCS as a physical disease, Theron G. Randolph, M.D., was ostracized, not unlike Ignaz Semmelweis, the physician who suggested a controversial change in practice: that his colleagues wash their hands. Both doctors lost their reputations and their professional standings.


Selected facts about multiple chemical sensitivity, also known as chemical sensitivity, environmental illness, and chemical injury, among other names

  • Countries such as Germany have recognized chemical sensitivity since 1998 as a debilitating illness. For example, Denmark, Finland, Spain, Luxemburg, and Austria.
  • Government agencies in the U.S recognize MCS, such as the EPA, the CDC, OSHA, and the Labor Department, among many others. In the mid-1980, Social Security began approving disability applications for applicants with multiple chemical sensitivity without a mental health component. (California newsletter The Reactor)
  • Senator Bernie Sander presented a comprehensive report to Congress detailing the primary medical conditions of returning soldiers from Iran exposed to pits of burning chemicals (Toxic Induced Loss of Tolerance). But senator Sanders also documented the physical health issues of comprised American consumers exposed to chemicals in their environment in the late 1990s.

In a medical marketplace riddled with gender bias, implicit bias, and racism, the WHO and other medical authorities have placed a target on the backs of patients with documented observable symptoms of MCS who do not have a history of mental health issues.

Too many health professionals don’t believe a patient who presents MCS documentation. Instead, for starters, buzz words are placed in the patients’ medical records underscoring bias and ignorance. Too many burdened patients are treated like a fire hydrant at the Westminster Dog Show.

First, Do No Harm.



A concise, unbiased summary of MCS from John Hopkins University:

Harvard Repository of Archives:

Different Truths:

Clash of the kitchens: California leads the way in a new climate battleground:


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