Joseph Merrick aka “Elephant Man”

Joseph Merrick was born on August 5, 1862 in Leicester, England to working-class parents. His baby appeared healthy, a relief to his mother, who lost two of his four children to childhood illnesses. But as Merrick approached his 5th birthday, everything changed. Her lips were swollen and her forehead had a large, hard bump often described as elephant skin. Over time, his right arm also became large and bumpy, and his skin became rough and thick. Although he was shunned by other school children, his mother doted on him and did her best to protect him from the cruelty of the world. Unfortunately, she too was handicapped and died when Merrick was only 11 years old due to being unwell at the time.

Her father’s new wife was not very happy with the boy, who was becoming more and more deformed, and she decided that she should either help at home or leave home. He dropped out of school and briefly worked in a tobacco shop, but soon his right hand became too large to lift heavy loads. He wandered from institution to institution, eventually doing what many people with less common disabilities were doing at the time. He put on what is commonly called a “man’s freak show”. Exhibition “News”.
Merrick was never wealthy, but he earned enough travel expenses to support himself and marketed himself as a “half-human, half-elephant” oddball. The only oddity, after all, was that he earned a more stable living in a shop on Whitechapel Road, opposite the research center of the Royal London Hospital. From time to time, students and doctors came to check on him. Renowned surgeon Frederick Trebs called Merrick “the most loathsome specimen of humanity I have ever seen”. At this point, his mysterious condition has affected every part of his body except his left torso, left arm and genitalia.

Despite his often shocking performances, many sympathized with Merrick and began to change attitudes towards British freak shows. Ironically, Operation Curiosity Racket’s achievements were a nightmare. But its demise left unemployed people like Merrick permanently unemployed and left to live on the streets. Ultimately, he had to be rescued by police from a crowd of horrified onlookers.

Merrick was very ill and had great difficulty speaking, but he called the police. Mr. Trebs picked him up and took him to a remote part of the hospital where he could live quietly away from other patients. Of course, this is an incredibly lonely life, and as Treves spends time with Merrick, he discovers that he has never communicated with any woman other than his late mother. Hoping to cheer up his shattered self-esteem, he invited a young widowed friend of his to Merrick to explain his peculiar situation. As expected, Merrick felt better as she appeared to be the first woman to shake hands with the so-called Elephant Man. They remained lifelong friends and soon rumors of their unique struggle spread throughout British high society.

Charitable donations poured in to fund her treatment and Merrick began to receive visitors, at one point even welcoming Princess Alexandra of Wales into her small hospital apartment. Above all, Merrick wanted to be treated like a normal person. And towards the end of his life, he was able to fulfill his dream of visiting the theater as a guest (although he had to sit in a separate, dedicated box). Amount of money). But it was probably that desire that ended Merrick’s life at the age of 27 when he tried to lie down and sleep, which Trebs had forbidden because of his head and shoulder abnormalities. Unfortunately, the experiment caused him to suffocate in his sleep. His body was examined at the Royal London Hospital, but no formal diagnosis was made, although modern experts suspect he may have suffered from severe Proteus Syndrome.