That crazy doctor, who used to take out the teeth of patients and then treat them, took the lives of hundreds and thousands…

Vardhan


Doctors are considered to be another form of God. They cure people by treating even the most serious diseases. There are different doctors for every disease. Some are MBBS doctors, some are surgeons, everyone’s work is different. But have you heard of a doctor who treats people in a strange way? That too in such a horrific way that hundreds of people die? Thousands of people become disabled? You may not have heard, but let us tell you that there used to be such a doctor in New Jersey, America, whose name was Henry Cotton. Dr. Henry Cotton used to be the medical director and superintendent of Trenton State Hospital, a big mental asylum in New Jersey.

Before returning to the US to accept the position as medical director at the young age of just 30, Dr. Cotton studied psychiatry in Europe under two famous personalities of the time, Emil Kraepelin and Alois Alzheimer. At that time there was also Dr. Adolf Meyer of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. All these persons used to be very big names in the field of psychiatry at that time, especially Adolf Meyer, who was one of the first to recognize that psychiatric problems are problems of human personality rather than the brain. Meyer also maintained the idea that mental illness can also be caused by bacterial infection. Henry Cotton was influenced by Meyer’s idea that germs are the root of all mental illnesses. In such a situation, in the year 1913, when reports confirmed that the bacteria that causes syphilis led to brain lesions of patients. Henry Cotton got courage after this incident. In such a situation, shortly after that he started applying his theories on prisoners at Trenton State Hospital. Penicillin had not been invented at that time and the only way to eliminate the infection was to surgically remove the infected organ.

In such a situation, Dr. Cotton first started removing people’s teeth in the name of treatment and gradually started cutting and removing other organs as well. He reasoned that the mouth is the most obvious place where germs are hidden. In such a situation, he first started removing infected, then cavities. He even got his own and his wife and two sons’ teeth removed as a prophylactic measure to avoid the risk of infection. When his patients did not recover after tooth extraction, he doubled his efforts and removed their tonsils and sinuses in the process. Dr. Cotton did not stop at this. He started removing different organs of those who were not getting cured. One out of every three patients operated by Cotton died. But Cotton did not consider himself responsible for these deaths, rather he blamed the poor physical condition of the patients due to long-term psychosis. At the same time, this eccentric doctor claimed to have achieved 85 percent success in curing diseases among the survivors, which also earned him applause in the Scientist Federation. After this, many people suffering from mental illness came to Trenton for treatment. Many of these people were dragged and beaten to be taken for surgery. Sometimes even the families were not informed.

Such open secrets
Dr. Adolf Meyer instructed Phyllis Greenacre, a staff member of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, to conduct a study to evaluate Cotton’s work at Trenton. But as soon as Greenacre stepped inside Trenton, she felt strange. She wrote in her report that the hospital smelled bad and Dr. Cotton’s behavior was also strange. Not only this, Greenacre was disturbed by the appearance and behavior of most of the mental patients, because all of them had sunken faces and no voice was coming out, because none of them had teeth in their mouth. Greenacre found that the hospital records were disorganized and incorrect data was also being given by Cotton. Greenacre found that very few patients were actually cured by Dr. Cotton’s method, and those who were cured had nothing to do with the surgery. Not only this, about half the patients died compared to the patients accepted by Cotton. When Adolf Meyer read Greenacre’s report, he felt that this was a conspiracy to defame Dr. Cotton. They refused to publish the report to save Cotton’s career. After retirement, Cotton opened his own private hospital and continued his horrific method of treatment. By the time he died suddenly of a heart attack on 8 May 1933, he had killed hundreds of people.

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