Views & Reviews Between the Lines

The scourge of ulcers

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 20 August 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e5576
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

In the middle of the last century there was a genre of books (I will not dignify it with the name of literature) with titles such as How to Live with Your Ulcer and How I Cured My Duodenal Ulcer. The lettering on the spine of the latter work, by John Parr, was in silver, except for the word “cured,” which was in diabolic red for emphasis. A cure for ulcer then was regarded as of almost supernatural occurrence.

Parr, who wrote the book in 1951, had an ulcer from 1919 until 1946, which gives him a kind of authority. We find it now as difficult to remember the miserable chronicity of peptic ulceration …

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