America in the 1920s was dominated by new inventions such as airplanes, motion pictures and the radio as well as new ideologies and scientific advancements. After all, it wasn’t for no reason that the period was called the Golden Age. However, there’s a downside to everything, even for something golden.
A century ago, medicine, law, entertainment and other aspects of society were quite different from what they are today, not necessarily in a good way. In some instances, they were downright gruesome. From public executions and unspeakable racism to bloody sports and creepy medical treatments, read on to find out some of the gruesome things that people considered normal a century ago.
While you’re at it, make sure you also check out 1920 Vs. 2020: What’s Changed And What Hasn’t In 100 Years.
Leeches were commonly used as treatment
Nowadays, we might be using the word “leech” to describe incessant things (or people) that suck us dry and deplete us of energy, money and whatnot but 100 years ago “leech” was a synonym of “physician” and associated with a very popular medical practice – leech therapy.
Leeching, also known as hirudotheraphy, has been around since the dawn of civilization, dating back to ancient Egypt and Greece when bloodletting was used to prevent and treat various ailments including fever, toothache, flatulence and even hemorrhoids. Physicians of the time attached the leeches to the patient’s skin and allowed the bloodsucking creatures to do just that- suck the bad blood out of the body. As the Science History Institute described, leeches were quite convenient because they “could access hard-to-reach and sensitive areas, such as the inside of the ears, nose, mouth, and other even more intimate spaces.”
The leech therapy waned and almost disappeared in the 20th century only to make a surprising comeback in legitimate medical groups in the 21st century. Although doctors today use leeches to treat serious illnesses such as cancer or osteoarthritis, the practice is seen as more on the creepy side than on the normal side.
Speaking of bizarre, check out these 11 Gawk-Worthy Photos From History That Will Leave You Speechless.