Artatomical: L'Auscultation and Night Terrors


Not sure how I feel about this doctor... Hulton Archive/Getty Images

In today's Artatomical specimen, we see an uncredited 1900 work titled "L'Auscultation," in which a decidedly creepy-looking doctor listens to the chest of a young female patient.

Auscultation is the medical term for listening to the sounds of the body, usually with a stethoscope, so there's nothing innately unsettling about the practice. Really, it's one of the least invasive things that can happen in a medical examination.

And yet is that a look of fear or shock on the woman's face? Why is the doctor so shadowy and squat? To this modern viewer, it summons thoughts of night terrors, the little bald doctors of Stephen King's "Insomnia" and the strange beings from Tool's "Parabola" music video:


About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.