Medicine or malarkey? A collection of fascinating potions and devices

When it came to making a career choice, Jeff Gorman never really thought about doing anything else, except medicine. Now 65, Dr. Gorman just retired from his internal medicine practice of 34 years.

It was a practice that started at the University of Wisconsin medical school, led to a medical residency at the University of Minnesota, and finally to his own practice in Bloomington.

Along the way he met a guy named Bob McCoy, a clinic administrator who had a fascination with old medical devices.

“Bob McCoy piqued my interest in old medical devices,” Gorman said. “He had a wealth of manuals and pamphlets and was always a good resource. I always enjoyed going to his museum.” (Much of McCoy’s collection is now housed at the Science Museum of Minnesota.)

And while McCoy parlayed his sizable collection of “questionable medical devices” into guest appearances on national TV, Gorman quietly started a collection of his own. 

From the “Electro-Metabograph,” which claimed to diagnose and cure any disease — yes any — to a velvet and satin-lined cap with an electric cord attached, which sold as a cure for baldness, Gorman’s collection is a study in turn-of-the-century medical quackery.

I recently stopped by Dr. Gorman’s house to take a look at his collection and discovered that whether it’s a cure for baldness or the promise of enhanced breast size, what’s old is new again.

Here’s the video by Steve Date.

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Jennifer Potvien on 04/27/2009 - 02:58 pm.

    I found the video fascinating and am very grateful that a visit to the doctor doesn’t include a diagnosis with any of those machines. Medical technology has really come a long way!
    Jennifer Potvien

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