Punch-Drunk Slugnuts: Violence and the Vernacular History of Disease

AHP readers may be interested in a piece in the June 2022 issue of Isis: “Punch-Drunk Slugnuts: Violence and the Vernacular History of Disease,” by Stephen T. Casper. Abstract:

The observation that neurological illnesses follow recurrent hits to the head was tempered by the terms that first called the diseases into scientific existence: “punch-drunk,” “slugnutty,” “slaphappy,” “goofy,” “punchy,” and a host of other colloquialisms accompanying class identities. Thus the discovery of disease and its medicalization ran straight into a countervailing belief about losers—losers in boxing, losers in life, losers in general. To medicalize such individuals was to fly in the face of a culture that made them jokes. Yet a subculture began to emerge around pathological understandings: first in medicine, then in journalism, then in the courts, and finally with patient accounts about illness.

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.