Constructing the “Chamber of Sleep”: Emotions and Early Anaesthesia

  • Michael Brown (Presenter)

    Activity: Public engagement and outreachPublic speaking engagements


    This is a joint talk between the Anaesthesia Heritage Centre and the Surgery and Emotion project. It is the fourth in a series commemorating the 75th year of Anaesthesia, the journal of the Association of Anaesthetists.

    In his talk entitled "Constructing the Chamber of Sleep: Emotions and Early Anaesthesia", Dr Michael Brown seeks to challenge the notion that the advent of anaesthesia in 1846 brought about a sudden transformation in surgical practice and that the once writhing, screaming patient of the pre-anaesthetic era was rendered completely silent by the administration of ether. Rather, he reveals that the early application of anaesthesia elicited a range of strange phenomena from the patient, including flinching, talking and even singing, and that the image of anaesthesia as a form of painless oblivion was one that had to be crafted by Victorian surgeons.

    We will then hear from Dr Douglas Justins who reflects on the development of pain management. A greater understanding of the neurobiology of pain combined with major clinical advances improved the management of all forms of pain. From the 1965 ‘Gate Theory of Pain’, to an article published in Anaesthesia in 1976 describing the measurement of pain, there were important milestones in the development of pain management services.

    Estimated audience numbers (if applicable)

    Period15 Apr 2021
    Event titleConstructing the “Chamber of Sleep”: Emotions and Early Anaesthesia
    Event typeSeminar
    Degree of RecognitionInternational