Gavin Francis

Gavin Francis is a GP in Edinburgh. His books include Adventures in Human BeingIntensive Care: A GP, a Community and Covid-19 and Recovery: The Lost Art of Convalescence.

Functionaldisorders are conditions in which the body’s normal processes are disrupted, but for which no organic cause can be determined. They do, though, have characteristics evident to a trained eye, since the sufferers experience sensations or disabilities that don’t make anatomical sense. This doesn’t mean that the symptoms are in any way less real or debilitating....

On Antibiotic Resistance

Gavin Francis, 7 April 2022

The average adult​ carries about two kilograms of bacteria on and in their body. That’s more bacterial cells than human ones, trillions of them making a home on our skin and in our guts (the ‘microbiome’). We need them to help digest food, to fine-tune our immune systems, and to protect us against harmful micro-organisms. If you get ill with one of the nasty ones, the...

The Head in the Shed: Reading Bones

Gavin Francis, 21 January 2021

IanHamilton once recounted in the LRB (22 October 1992) that ‘when William F. Buckley Jr sent a copy of his essays to Norman Mailer, he pencilled a welcoming “Hi, Norman!” in the index, next to Mailer’s name.’ The index discloses a lot about the nature of a book, and the passions of its author, more than is sometimes realised (‘acknowledgments’ are...

The Untreatable: The Spanish Flu

Gavin Francis, 25 January 2018

It is estimated that five hundred million people contracted it, and that between fifty and a hundred million of them died. Asians were thirty times more likely to die than Europeans. The pandemic had some influence on the lives of everyone alive today. Donald Trump’s grandfather Friedrich died from it in New York City. He was 49. His early death meant that his fortune passed to his son Fred, who used it to start a New York property empire.

Awwooooooooooooooooo! Lycanthropy

Gavin Francis, 2 November 2017

‘The patient stated that he had known he was a cat since this secret was imparted to him by the family cat, who subsequently taught him “cat language”,’ the psychiatrists wrote. He held down a normal job, all the while ‘he lived with cats, had sexual activity with them, hunted with them, and frequented cat night spots in preference to their human equivalent.’ The psychiatrists had little hope for improvement – his belief had persisted despite various trials of antidepressants, anticonvulsants, antipsychotics and six years of psychotherapy. ‘His greatest – but unrequited – love was for a tigress in the local zoo,’ they concluded. ‘He hoped one day to release her.’

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