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By D. Armstrong

Scientific texts supply a strong technique of having access to modern perceptions of ailment and during them assumptions in regards to the nature of the physique and identification. via mapping those perceptions, from their nineteenth-century specialise in ailment situated in a organic physique via to their 'discovery' of the psycho-social sufferer of the overdue 20th century, a heritage of id, either actual and mental, is published.

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Standing to attention was therefore the ideal posture, the point of highest perfection for body positioning and alertness to subsequent movement. It was, of course, a position that transcended nature: an over-caricatured version of natural alertness that replaced anticipatory tension with a taut formality. Indeed, the position of attention was pre-eminently ‘unnatural’ in the control it exerted simultaneously over every body part and muscle. How better to wrest the body from natural forces? Alas, this posture could only be held for brief periods and the rest of the time a child’s body relaxed and departed to varying degrees from this great ideal.

In the new mortality classification adopted by the RegistrarGeneral for 1921, atrophy finally disappeared. With that gesture, the influence of natural forces on infant mortality was finally removed from the classification of infant deaths. Debility, it is true, remained from the old order but it was now qualified. Whereas previously it had been an inherent characteristic of the infant’s life, its cause was now given a ‘congenital’ label. Such a change had little meaning in terms of understanding the underlying cause or basis of the problem but it signified incorporation of the ‘disorder’ into a pathological framework.

Parkes 1873: 440) This meant that burials underneath or within the walls of any church were prohibited; burial in vaults or walled graves was also forbidden unless the coffin was ‘separately entombed in an air-tight manner’ and it was thereafter ‘never disturbed’ (Hamer 1902: 558). Judicious siting of the cemetery, good depth of burial and the appropriate use of plants could aid the decomposition of the corpse: deep burial and the use of plants, closely placed in the cemetery. There is no plan which is more efficacious for the absorption of the organic substances, and perhaps of the carbonic acid, than plants ..

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