10 Dangerous Things People Thought Were Normal In The Past
“The past is a foreign country,” so the old saying goes.
What does that mean? Well, it kinda means that if you look back in the past you’ll find things that seem odd, because they are difficult to understand for you. Just like when you visit a foreign country and you can’t find your way around because everything is done differently to what you’re used to.
You need a guide book to find your way around the past pretty much: it can be a dark and scary place.
Science and technology are advancing all the time, and we’re getting a better understanding of the world around us.
So it’s pretty strange to look back and think about when seemed normal to folks in the past.
Some of the things that they used to get up to are downright bizarre!
Don’t believe me? Check out these incredibly dangerous things that nobody would’ve even batted an eyelid at throughout history!
1. Smoking during pregnancy
These days, we all know that smoking is bad for your health. It seems really obvious that it’s bad for you, and we know how and why. But it wasn’t always like that, and the so-called health ‘benefits’ of smoking were always outlined in the past. Just 70 years ago for example, American doctors recommended their pregnant patients to smoke to get rid of constipation! Imagine how harmful smoking is to an unborn baby!
2. Cocaine treatment
100 years ago, people didn’t think cocaine was all that harmful. Quite the opposite in fact, as it was available in drugstores and sold without a prescription, as a remedy to heal coughs and toothache. It was even recommended as a sedative for kids with teething problems, and it was widely advertised through newspapers and posters at the time.
3. Sending kids through the mail
Nope, we’re not even joking about this one! At the beginning of the 20th century in America, parents could send their kids through the mail, and it wasn’t against the law. It cost around 15 cents if the child weighed no more than a standard parcel. So… um, ‘caring’ parents could send their kids to relatives without having to pay train fare. Maybe they should bring it back, I wouldn’t mind riding like a package!
4. Outdoor baby cages
In the 1930s, wire cages like were very common in built-up areas where floor space in the home was at a premium. With the help of these dangerous looking contraptions, kids could breathe fresh air while their mothers were busy with household duties. It’s unbelievable, but these cages were considered safe, and were even championed by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt!
5. Garden hermits
When you’re rich, you can buy whatever you want, right? Even people… and no, not staff to be your cook or butler. In the 18th century, it was apparently popular to have a personal hermit who lived in your garden, who wasn’t allowed to wash or cut their nails or hair, and lived in a handmade shack. The poor people were meant to be showed off to wealthy guests as a way of impressing them!
6. Basically most medical treatments in history
Not so long ago, bloodletting was thought of as a remedy for all diseases, while tongue cutting was thought to cure stammering (well I guess technically it would, can’t stammer if you can’t talk, right?). Even things like lobotomies and electric shock treatments were common, but disinfecting surgical instruments wasn’t. Even the most successful doctors of that time, like surgeon Lewis Sayre, performed many operations with lethal outcomes.
7. Radioactive toys
Before people really understood the dangers of radiation and its horrific effects, ‘atomic’ toys such as this mini-laboratory were really popular. The set came complete with experiments which included real polonium and uranium in small quantities!
8. Body parts collections
As insane as it may sound, people used to collect human body parts as trophies, and even displayed them in their own rooms at home. It isn’t even something that was left in the dim and distant past, as you can see in this picture, an American sailor with the skull of a Japanese soldier during the Second World War.
9. Human zoos
This picture was taken at a human zoo in Belgium in 1958, and yep, that’s a little girl being kept in a cage for the entertainment of all those onlookers. Human zoos was supposed to show people from Asia and Africa as “proof” of Darwin’s theory of evolution. How incredible and disgraceful.
10. Trips to mental hospitals for amusement
Patients of psychiatric hospitals were treated awfully in the past. They were locked away, mostly left untreated and rarely fed, though relatives paid for patients’ accommodation. But the owners of these asylums for the insane saw a business opportunity, and a way of making even more money. So they charged willing visitors a certain sum of money to for a guided tour around the wards, to see the patients, and even poke them with a stick.