Missing Limbs

Major General Daniel Sickles’ lower leg bone. (Image courtesy: National Museum of Health and Medicine, Washington DC.)

Moosje Goosen | Universiteit van Amsterdam  | Promotors: Patricia Pisters and Esther Peeren I am a PhD fellow at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis. My research, titled ‘Missing Limbs’, focuses on the discursive formation of the phantom limb. While there have been several accounts of sensations and pain in missing body parts from the Middle Ages onwards, these only seem to have found provenance in the body of quadruple amputee George Dedlow, a character conceived by the physician Silas Weir Mitchell (1829-1914) in an anonymously published, fictitious case report. Five years after this initial apparition in fiction, Mitchell first postulated the condition in his 1881 article ‘Phantom Limbs’, based on accounts of injured men who had fought in the American Civil War. In this research, I intend to trace these phantom footsteps and analyze under what circumstances the missing may enter our field of perception.

Image: Major General Daniel Sickles’ lower leg bone. (Image courtesy: National Museum of Health and Medicine, Washington DC.)