William Porterfield (ca. 1696-1771) and his phantom limb: An overlooked first self-report by a man of medicine

Nicholas J. Wade, Stanley Finger, David G. Kline, James T. Goodrich, Christopher B.T. Adams, Edward R. Laws

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

EARLY REPORTS OF phantom limbs by Ambroise Paré and René Descartes were based on second- or third-hand descriptions provided by amputees. William Porterfield (ca. 1696-1771) was a prominent Scottish physician and was possibly the first man of medicine to write about his experiences after having a leg amputated. Porterfield was an authority on vision; he devised the first optometer and examined accommodation after cataract operations. Rather than using the phenomenon of a phantom limb to question the veracity of the senses (as Descartes had done), Porterfield integrated his phantom limb experiences into his general account of sensory function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1196-1199
Number of pages4
JournalNeurosurgery
Volume52
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2003
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Amputation
  • Illusions
  • Phantom limb
  • Sensory function
  • William Porterfield

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology

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