The International Literary Quarterly
Contributors

Shanta Acharya
Marjorie Agosín
Donald Adamson
Diran Adebayo
Nausheen Ahmad
Toheed Ahmad
Amanda Aizpuriete
Baba Akote
Elisa Albo
Daniel Albright
Meena Alexander
Rosetta Allan
María Teresa Andruetto
Innokenty Annensky
Claudia Apablaza
Robert Appelbaum
Michael Arditti
Jenny Argante
Sandra Arnold
C.J.K. Arkell
Agnar Artúvertin
Sarah Arvio
Rosemary Ashton
Mammed Aslan
Coral Atkinson
Rose Ausländer
Shushan Avagyan
Razif Bahari
Elizabeth Baines
Jo Baker
Ismail Bala
Evgeny Baratynsky
Saule Abdrakhman-kyzy Batay
Konstantin Nikolaevich Batyushkov
William Bedford
Gillian Beer
Richard Berengarten
Charles Bernstein
Ilya Bernstein
Mashey Bernstein
Christopher Betts
Sujata Bhatt
Sven Birkerts
Linda Black
Chana Bloch
Amy Bloom
Mary Blum Devor
Michael Blumenthal
Jean Boase-Beier
Jorge Luis Borges
Alison Brackenbury
Julia Brannigan
Theo Breuer
Iain Britton
Françoise Brodsky
Amy Brown
Bernard Brown
Diane Brown
Gay Buckingham
Carmen Bugan
Stephen Burt
Zarah Butcher McGunnigle
James Byrne
Kevin Cadwallander
Howard Camner
Mary Caponegro
Marisa Cappetta
Helena Cardoso
Adrian Castro
Luis Cernuda
Firat Cewerî
Pierre Chappuis
Neil Charleton
Janet Charman
Sampurna Chattarji
Amit Chaudhuri
Mèlissa Chiasson
Ronald Christ
Alex Cigale
Sally Cline
Marcelo Cohen
Lila Cona
Eugenio Conchez
Andrew Cowan
Mary Creswell
Christine Crow
Pedro Xavier Solís Cuadra
Majella Cullinane
P. Scott Cunningham
Emma Currie
Jeni Curtis
Stephen Cushman
David Dabydeen
Susan Daitch
Rubén Dario
Jean de la Fontaine
Denys Johnson Davies
Lydia Davis
Robert Davreu
David Dawnay
Jill Dawson
Rosalía de Castro
Joanne Rocky Delaplaine
Patricia Delmar
Christine De Luca
Tumusiime Kabwende Deo
Paul Scott Derrick
Josephine Dickinson
Belinda Diepenheim
Jenny Diski
Rita Dove
Arkadii Dragomoschenko
Paulette Dubé
Denise Duhamel
Jonathan Dunne
S. B. Easwaran
Jorge Edwards
David Eggleton
Mohamed El-Bisatie
Tsvetanka Elenkova
Johanna Emeney
Osama Esber
Fiona Farrell
Ernest Farrés
Elaine Feinstein
Gigi Fenster
Micah Timona Ferris
Vasil Filipov
Maria Filippakopoulou
Ruth Fogelman
Peter France
Alexandra Fraser
Bashabi Fraser
Janis Freegard
Robin Fry
Alice Fulton
Ulrich Gabriel
Manana Gelashvili
Laurice Gilbert
Paul Giles
Zulfikar Ghose
Corey Ginsberg
Chrissie Gittins
Sarah Glazer
Michael Glover
George Gömöri
Giles Goodland
Martin Goodman
Roberta Gordenstein
Mina Gorji
Maria Grech Ganado
David Gregory
Philip Gross
Carla Guelfenbein
Daniel Gunn
Charles Hadfield
Haidar Haidar
Ruth Halkon
Tomás Harris
Geoffrey Hartman
Siobhan Harvey
Beatriz Hausner
John Haynes
Jennifer Hearn
Helen Heath
Geoffrey Heptonstall
Felisberto Hernández
W.N. Herbert
William Hershaw
Michael Hettich
Allen Hibbard
Hassan Hilmi
Rhisiart Hincks
Kerry Hines
Amanda Hopkinson
Adam Horovitz
David Howard
Sue Hubbard
Aamer Hussein
Fahmida Hussain
Alexander Hutchison
Sabine Huynh
Juan Kruz Igerabide Sarasola
Neil Langdon Inglis
Jouni Inkala
Ofonime Inyang
Kevin Ireland
Michael Ives
Philippe Jacottet
Robert Alan Jamieson
Rebecca Jany
Andrea Jeftanovic
Ana Jelnikar
Miroslav Jindra
Stephanie Johnson
Bret Anthony Johnston
Marion Jones
Tim Jones
Gabriel Josipovici
Pierre-Albert Jourdan
Sophie Judah
Tomoko Kanda
Maarja Kangro
Jana Kantorová-Báliková
Fawzi Karim
Kapka Kassabova
Susan Kelly-DeWitt
Mimi Khalvati
Daniil Kharms
Velimir Khlebnikov
Akhmad hoji Khorazmiy
David Kinloch
John Kinsella
Yudit Kiss
Tomislav Kuzmanović
Andrea Labinger
Charles Lambert
Christopher Lane
Jan Lauwereyns
Fernando Lavandeira
Graeme Lay
Ilias Layios
Hiên-Minh Lê
Mikhail Lermontov
Miriam Levine
Suzanne Jill Levine
Micaela Lewitt
Zhimin Li
Joanne Limburg
Birgit Linder
Pippa Little
Parvin Loloi
Christopher Louvet
Helen Lowe
Ana Lucic
Aonghas MacNeacail
Kona Macphee
Kate Mahony
Sara Maitland
Channah Magori
Vasyl Makhno
Marcelo Maturana Montañez
Stephanie Mayne
Ben Mazer
Harvey Molloy
Osip Mandelstam
Alberto Manguel
Olga Markelova
Laura Marney
Geraldine Maxwell
John McAuliffe
Peter McCarey
John McCullough
Richard McKane
John MacKinven
Cilla McQueen
Edie Meidav
Ernst Meister
Lina Meruane
Jesse Millner
Deborah Moggach
Mawatle J. Mojalefa
Jonathan Morley
César Moro
Helen Mort
Laura Moser
Andrew Motion
Paola Musa
Robin Myers
André Naffis-Sahely
Vivek Narayanan
Bob Natifu
María Negroni
Hernán Neira
Barbra Nightingale
Paschalis Nikolaou
James Norcliffe
Carol Novack
Annakuly Nurmammedov
Joyce Carol Oates
Sunday Enessi Ododo
Obododimma Oha
Michael O'Leary
Antonio Diaz Oliva
Wilson Orhiunu
Maris O'Rourke
Sue Orr
Wendy O'Shea-Meddour
María Claudia Otsubo
Ruth Padel
Ron Padgett
Thalia Pandiri
Judith Dell Panny
Hom Paribag
Lawrence Patchett
Ian Patterson
Georges Perros
Pascale Petit
Aleksandar Petrov
Mario Petrucci
Geoffrey Philp
Toni Piccini
Henning Pieterse
Robert Pinsky
Mark Pirie
David Plante
Nicolás Poblete
Sara Poisson
Clare Pollard
Mori Ponsowy
Wena Poon
Orest Popovych
Jem Poster
Begonya Pozo
Pauline Prior-Pitt
Eugenia Prado Bassi
Ian Probstein
Sheenagh Pugh
Kate Pullinger
Zosimo Quibilan, Jr
Vera V. Radojević
Margaret Ranger
Tessa Ransford
Shruti Rao
Irina Ratushinskaya
Tanyo Ravicz
Richard Reeve
Sue Reidy
Joan Retallack
Laura Richardson
Harry Ricketts
Ron Riddell
Cynthia Rimsky
Loreto Riveiro Alvarez
James Robertson
Peter Robertson
Gonzalo Rojas
Dilys Rose
Gabriel Rosenstock
Jack Ross
Anthony Rudolf
Basant Rungta
Joseph Ryan
Sean Rys
Jostein Sæbøe
André Naffis Sahely
Eurig Salisbury
Fiona Sampson
Polly Samson
Priya Sarukkai Chabria
Maree Scarlett
John Schad
Michael Schmidt
L.E. Scott
Maureen Seaton
Alexis Sellas
Hadaa Sendoo
Chris Serio
Resul Shabani
Bina Shah
Yasir Shah
Daniel Shapiro
Ruth Sharman
Tina Shaw
David Shields
Ana María Shua
Christine Simon
Iain Sinclair
Katri Skala
Carole Smith
Ian C. Smith
Elizabeth Smither
John Stauffer
Jim Stewart
Susan Stewart
Jesper Svenbro
Virgil Suárez
Lars-Håkan Svensson
Sridala Swami
Rebecca Swift
George Szirtes
Chee-Lay Tan
Tugrul Tanyol
José-Flore Tappy
Alejandro Tarrab
Campbell Taylor
John Taylor
Judith Taylor
Petar Tchouhov
Miguel Teruel
John Thieme
Karen Thornber
Tim Tomlinson
Angela Topping
David Trinidad
Kola Tubosun
Nick Vagnoni
Joost Vandecasteele
Jan van Mersbergen
Latika Vasil
Yassen Vassilev
Lawrence Venuti
Lidia Vianu
Dev Virahsawmy
Anthony Vivis
Richard Von Sturmer
Răzvan Voncu
Nasos Vayenas
Mauricio Wacquez
Julie Marie Wade
Alan Wall
Marina Warner
Mia Watkins
Peter Wells
Stanley Wells
Laura Watkinson
Joe Wiinikka-Lydon
Hayden Williams
Edwin Williamson
Ronald V. Wilson
Stephen Wilson
Alison Wong
Leslie Woodard
Elzbieta Wójcik-Leese
Niel Wright
Manolis Xexakis
Xu Xi
Gao Xingjian
Sonja Yelich
Tamar Yoseloff
Augustus Young
Soltobay Zaripbekov
Karen Zelas
Alan Ziegler
Ariel Zinder

 

President, Publisher & Founding Editor:
Peter Robertson
Vice-President: Glenna Luschei
Vice-President: Sari Nusseibeh
Vice-President: Elena Poniatowska
U. S. General Editor: Neil Langdon Inglis
London Editor/Senior Editor-at-Large: Geraldine Maxwell
New York Editor/Senior Editor-at-Large: Meena Alexander
Washington D.C. Editor/Senior
Editor-at-Large:
Laura Moser
Argentine Editor: Yamila Musa
Deputy Editor: Allen Hibbard
Deputy Editor: Jerónimo Mohar Volkow
Deputy Editor: Bina Shah
Advisory Consultant: Jill Dawson
General Editor: Beatriz Hausner
General Editor: Malvina Segui
Art Editor: Lara Alcantara-Lansberg
Art Editor: Calum Colvin
Deputy General Editor: Jeff Barry

Consulting Editors
Shanta Acharya
Marjorie Agosín
Daniel Albright
Meena Alexander
Maria Teresa Andruetto
Frank Ankersmit
Rosemary Ashton
Reza Aslan
Leonard Barkan
Michael Barry
Shadi Bartsch
Thomas Bartscherer
Susan Bassnett
Gillian Beer
David Bellos
Richard Berengarten
Charles Bernstein
Sujata Bhatt
Mario Biagioli
Jean Boase-Beier
Elleke Boehmer
Eavan Boland
Stephen Booth
Alain de Botton
Carmen Boullossa
Rachel Bowlby
Svetlana Boym
Peter Brooks
Marina Brownlee
Roberto Brodsky
Carmen Bugan
Jenni Calder
Stanley Cavell
Hollis Clayson
Sarah Churchwell
Marcelo Cohen
Kristina Cordero
Drucilla Cornell
Junot Díaz
André Dombrowski
Denis Donoghue
Ariel Dorfman
Rita Dove
Denise Duhamel
Klaus Ebner
Robert Elsie
Stefano Evangelista
Orlando Figes
Tibor Fischer
Shelley Fisher Fishkin
Peter France
Nancy Fraser
Maureen Freely
Michael Fried
Marjorie Garber
Anne Garréta
Marilyn Gaull
Zulfikar Ghose
Paul Giles
Lydia Goehr
Vasco Graça Moura
A. C. Grayling
Stephen Greenblatt
Lavinia Greenlaw
Lawrence Grossberg
Edith Grossman
Elizabeth Grosz
Boris Groys
David Harsent
Benjamin Harshav
Geoffrey Hartman
François Hartog
Molly Haskell
Selina Hastings
Beatriz Hausner
Valerie Henitiuk
Kathryn Hughes
Aamer Hussein
Djelal Kadir
Kapka Kassabova
John Kelly
Martin Kern
Mimi Khalvati
Joseph Koerner
Annette Kolodny
Julia Kristeva
George Landow
Chang-Rae Lee
Mabel Lee
Linda Leith
Suzanne Jill Levine
Lydia Liu
Margot Livesey
Julia Lovell
Thomas Luschei
Willy Maley
Alberto Manguel
Ben Marcus
Paul Mariani
Marina Mayoral
Richard McCabe
Campbell McGrath
Jamie McKendrick
Edie Meidav
Jack Miles
Toril Moi
Susana Moore
Laura Mulvey
Azar Nafisi
Martha Nussbaum
Tim Parks
Clare Pettitt
Caryl Phillips
Robert Pinsky
Elizabeth Powers
Elizabeth Prettejohn
Martin Puchner
Kate Pullinger
Paula Rabinowitz
Rajeswari Sunder Rajan
James Richardson
François Rigolot
Geoffrey Robertson
Ritchie Robertson
Avital Ronell
Carla Sassi
Michael Scammell
Celeste Schenck
Daniel Shapiro
Sudeep Sen
Hadaa Sendoo
Miranda Seymour
Daniel Shapiro
Mimi Sheller
Elaine Showalter
Penelope Shuttle
Werner Sollors
Frances Spalding
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
Julian Stallabrass
Susan Stewart
Rebecca Stott
Mark Strand
Kathryn Sutherland
John Whittier Treat
David Treuer
David Trinidad
Marjorie Trusted
Lidia Vianu
Victor Vitanza
Marina Warner
David Wellbery
Edwin Williamson
Michael Wood
Theodore Zeldin

Assistant Editor: Sara Besserman
Assistant Editor: Ana de Biase
Assistant Editor: Conor Bracken
Assistant Editor: Eugenio Conchez
Assistant Editor: Patricia Delmar
Assistant Editor: Lucila Gallino
Assistant Editor: Sophie Lewis
Assistant Editor: Krista Oehlke
Assistant Editor: Siska Rappé
Assistant Editor: Naomi Schub
Assistant Editor: Stephanie Smith
Assistant Editor: Emily Snyder
Assistant Editor: Robert Toperter
Assistant Editor: Laurence Webb
Art Consultant: Verónica Barbatano
Art Consultant: Angie Roytgolz

 

Neil Langdon Inglis

The Power of Prose:
Fringe Medicine
By Brian Inglis
A review by: Neil Langdon Inglis
 

 

Doctors had been mocked before. But the scorn they received in Brian Inglis's "Fringe Medicine" (Faber and Faber, 1964) was of a completely different order. Inglis sought no compromise (the book is not called "Complementary Medicine”). Here was England’s quintessential authority figure1 giving disillusioned patients the tools and conceptual framework they needed to advocate for themselves in the lion’s den—their doctor’s office.

A patients’ charter, "Fringe Medicine" covers the waterfront, and provides a bold introduction to a spectrum of unorthodox therapies (although some branches of healing are omitted—notably Ayurveda).2

Fifty-four years on, popular interest in alternative medicine and wellness stand at all-time highs. Resources are available on-line for patients seeking facts on new treatments and their dangers. How my father would have cheered the fall of such medications as Vioxx (withdrawn from the market), Celebrex (carrying black-box warnings), and other drugs first introduced with hoopla and now cringing in shame.3 Likewise, Inglis would have pored over recent studies suggesting that mammograms and annual physicals have little or no impact on patient outcomes.4

The public was more trusting back in 1962, the year Brian Inglis’s family expanded by one (with the arrival of son Neil). As a firm believer that orthodox medicine did more harm than good, Brian was vexed by my mother Ruth’s classically American deference to doctors (she grew more skeptical over time). According to an American pediatrician Ruth consulted in the 1950s, raw cow's milk was top stuff for babies.

That old wives’ tale was in disrepute by the time Ruth stepped off the plane at Heathrow in 1960. It was as a newcomer to London that she encountered her new husband's hard-line beliefs for the first time, an early flashpoint in their marriage. No doubt Brian had been treated with penicillin while serving in RAF Coastal Command in WWII, but he remained wary of antibiotics: horror stories were appearing by the time "Fringe Medicine" was published (see the lengthy discussion of Chloramphenicol and its linkage to cases of aplastic anemia).

Some of Brian's warnings concerning broad-spectrum antibiotics, and the rise of drug resistance, are prescient and on-point. Still, my mother ignored her husband's concerns and had medications administered to my sister Diana and me behind Brian's back. Would Ruth have taken Thalidomide while expecting me, had she been prescribed it? To my everlasting good fortune, Ruth's gynecologist counseled against it.

As always, Brian was evasive about his authorial motivations. He would have strenuously denied that parenthood had anything to do with his newfound interest in medicine. But was it such a new interest? He claims in the Acknowledgements that "Fringe Medicine" had arisen out of an Autumn 1960 profile in The Spectator—the magazine which Brian had edited prior to embarking upon his television career. A closer look at the Inglis bibliography unearths the earlier “Revolution in Medicine” (Hutchinson, 1958)—a critique of modern medicine and its materialistic viewpoints and a defense of psychosomatic approaches and psychotherapy.

In my mother’s recollection, a meeting with an Indian healer might have awakened Brian to the possibilities of alternative medicine; but that must remain in the realm of conjecture. Either way, the language of psychosomatic medicine permeated our household, and I remember discussing the topic with my grandfather's caregiver in Sussex when I was all of ten years old.

One obvious criticism is that “Fringe Medicine” is a book about illness for healthy people. It is all very well to argue (as Brian does) that the vital force just needs a push in order to put patients back on their feet, but sometimes (due to immunosuppression, or cancer) the force may be faint indeed. It takes a hard heart to withhold antibiotics from a child with an ear infection, as the parent's urge to do something—anything—to ease a child's suffering is all-powerful.

"Fringe Medicine" requires some suspension of disbelief. Observe how the author gives unorthodox techniques the benefit of the doubt:

The standard criticism of the [black box] has been that as the leads connecting the various dials, rheostats and magnets do not connect up with anything, it is a fraud. But they are not supposed to connect up with anything—except the operator and patient...

Acupuncture and other methods get a briefer reception. Homeopathy for historical reasons had a toehold in the medical establishment, as did osteopathy in the USA. They were collaborating with the enemy.

Even with the knowledge of Brian’s earlier “Revolution in Medicine,” I had imagined (prior to reading “Fringe Medicine” for the first time) that Brian would be charting a cautious and exploratory course. Not a bit of it: the polemical voice that reached full volume in Brian’s later two-volume history of psi5 was fully formed by 1964. The psi force was, for my father, the major under-reported story of his age; the obverse of the gift of healing—and both were rejected by rationalists.

In seeking to vindicate this ancient wisdom, Brian is torn between the urge to build a mountain of evidence, and the need to propose explanations, for the hidden power he describes (and venture them he does). At other times he argues that rationalists clamoring for answers are spoilsports, a source of negativity (a.k.a. the "observer effect") that banishes healing and hope from the hospital room, while silencing debate in the public square.

Brian’s bitterest quarrels lay in the future. His views made him enemies inside the UK and out, and his nemeses were marshaling on the horizon. Scientific American columnist Martin Gardner (the only skeptic Brian valued) is quoted in "Fringe Medicine," ten years before the formation of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP)6.

Brian was a man of principle, but the niche he occupied required him to make occasional contortions. Britain's National Health Service was the darling of Brian's social circle; yet it was also the public face of the hated medical establishment. As such, “Fringe Medicine” readers should expect only fleeting, wary references to the NHS—although Inglis stops short of asking patients to dump their doctors altogether. Still, in later years he threw his weight behind officialdom on a crucial issue, when he proclaimed myalgic encephalomyelitis (M.E.) as psychiatric, a dead-end diagnosis foolishly embraced by the NHS to the distress of sufferers ever since.

In the early 1960s, Brian could rely on his unassailable status as a public intellectual (he stands alongside Winston Churchill, Roy Jenkins, and David McCullough in the pantheon of non-academic historians). At least at first, Brian grasped the importance of guarding his reputation by combining books on pet subjects (the occult) with conventional works of history. His "Poverty and the Industrial Revolution" is a tour de force, as is the biography of Irish revolutionary Roger Casement, in which Inglis holds his sympathies in check to build a rounded portrait.7

And yet publishers Faber and Faber knew that in “Fringe Medicine” they had a bombshell on their hands. The trained eye can detect qualifiers and equivocations inserted by in-house editors to soften the text. Brian's own memory of the editorial process was fallible. He recalled to me that cancer surgeon Sir Heneage Ogilvie (cancer surgeon at Guy's Hospital) had been hired to write an introduction, and thereby lend a patina of respectability to a controversial exercise. Ogilvie is mentioned in passing, but the critical veneer was supplied by G.M. Carstairs, Professor of Psychological Medicine at the University of Edinburgh. Carstairs admits that Brian's work is readable (it always was) while also "polemical" (i.e., journalistic). Polemical works can leave a giant legacy, and “Fringe Medicine” is a classic of the genre.

Neil L. Inglis

1 Inglis was an instantly recognizable and highly regarded historian, journalist, and TV presenter. His weekly documentary about the events of 25 years previously, “All Our Yesterdays” (Granada), was compulsive viewing for the WWII generation. AOY was often at #2 in the ratings behind “Coronation Street.”

2 The following topics are mentioned on the front cover: Naturopathy, herbalism, homeopathy, osteopathy and chiropractic, acupuncture, psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, auto-suggestion, Christian Science, and radiesthesia.

3 The linkage between antidepressant use and suicide would have caused the author sorrow but no surprise.

https://prescriptiondrugs.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=005528

4 https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/annual-physical-exam-is-probably-unnecessary-if-youre-generally-healthy/2013/02/08/2c1e326a-5f2b-11e2-a389-ee565c81c565_story.html?utm_term=.d3d209d75885

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/study-casts-more-doubt-on-value-of-mammograms/

5Natural and Supernatural” and “Science and Parascience” (1976 and 1984, respectively, originally published by Hodder & Stoughton). Both titles have been reissued by White Crow Books.

6 Today CSICOP is known as CSI, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.

7 Respectively published by Hodder & Stoughton in 1971 and 1973. Both titles are being reissued by Endeavour Media.

"The Power of Prose"