Albert Abrams

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Albert Abrams (1863–1924) was an American doctor, well known during his life for inventing machines which he claimed could diagnose and cure almost any disease. These claims were challenged from the outset. Towards the end of his life, and again shortly after his death, his claims were conclusively demonstrated to be both false and intentionally deceptive.


Early days

Abrams was born in San Francisco around 1863, giving dates a couple of years either way on occasions. Between 1910 and 1918, Abrams published several books on a medical technique he called Spondylotherapy, a manipulative technique not dissimilar to Chiropractic and Osteopathy, but involving electricity. Abrams described the theory and practice of spondylotherapy in a 1910 book by that name.[1]

Heidelberg doctorate claim

Abrams fraudulently[2] claimed to have qualified in medicine from the University of Heidelberg at the age of variously 18 to 20. In Abrams' view, American medicine was dominated by physicians who admired German doctors and researchers excessively. Earlier, he had aroused their anger by dubbing them in his writings Dr. Hades, Dr. Inferior, etc. (comparing their looks to typhoid and other germs), and by making fun of various abstruse therapies that at the time were considered "scientific" by the medical establishment. In a send-up of Balloon therapy, for instance, the doctors take their patients up in the air but don't know how to bring the Balloon down again. The poem ends with the lines: But they never came back. That's why we confess / Aëronautic therapy is not a success.[3]

Electronic Reactions of Abrams

Abrams promoted an idea that electrons were the basic element of all life. He called this ERA, for Electronic Reactions of Abrams, and introduced a number of different machines which he claimed were based on these principles.

The machines

The Dynomizer looked something like a radio, and Abrams claimed it could diagnose any known disease from a single drop of blood or alternatively the subject's handwriting. He performed diagnoses on dried blood samples sent to him on pieces of paper in envelopes through the mail. Apparently Abrams even claimed he could conduct medical practice over the telephone with his machines,[4] and that he could determine personality characteristics.

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