What was the Royal Humane Society?
The Royal Humane Society was a charity founded in 1774 by two doctors concerned at the number of people who they believed were being wrongly diagnosed as dead, and in some cases were buried alive. The Society investigated various methods of resuscitation, and offered rewards to those who saved the lives of attempted suicides.
What is described in these examples?
The Society’s annual report published examples of people whose lives had been saved, outlining the methods, in the hope that these methods would be taken up elsewhere. In these two cases people who had attempted to take their own lives by drowning are described as being in states of ‘insensibility’ or ‘suspended animation’, states in which they might easily have been diagnosed as beyond help.
- Article by:
- Sharon Ruston
- The novel 1780–1832, Technology and science
Professor Sharon Ruston surveys the scientific background to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, considering contemporary investigations into resuscitation, galvanism and the possibility of states between life and death.