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Views & Reviews Medical Classics

Human Gastric Function

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: (Published 30 July 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a999
  1. Leonard Sinclair, emeritus consultant paediatrician, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, London
  1. Drls{at}

    This book is about a remarkable man and the elegant and revealing experiments conducted on him. Written by Stewart Wolf and Harold Wolff, two dedicated pioneers of psychosomatic medicine, it encompasses the life history of Tom Little, a man of 57 years, who had a gastric fistula. Tom was one of several patients with a gastrostomy who became experimental subjects. The first such experiments had been reported by William Beaumont in 1833, on Alexis St Martin, a Canadian voyageur with an unusually dramatic life. Tom was not like this. As noted by the famed physiologist Walter Cannon, who wrote this book’s introduction, he was sensitive, proud, and independent and thus an ideal subject for psychosomatic studies.

    When Little was 9 years old he had …

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