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December 5, 1953


JAMA. 1953;153(14):1273-1280. doi:10.1001/jama.1953.02940310041010

A HISTORICAL REVIEW OF MYASTHENIA GRAVIS FROM 1672 TO 1900  Henry R. Viets, M.D., BostonAlthough myasthenia gravis was not described with any pretense of completeness as a clinical entity until the last quarter of the 19th century, a reference by Thomas Willis, an astute 17th century English clinician, indicates that Willis knew of the disease and recognized the chief symptom of asthenia of the voluntary muscles, with recovery after rest. The description of the weakness in his patient (1672),1 first noticed by Guthrie (1903),2 occurs in his book on the physiology and pathology of disease, with illustrative cases, "De anima brutorum," published in two separate editions the same year in Oxford and in London.An English translation of "De anima brutorum" was made by S. Pordage in 1683 and published as "Two Discourses Concerning the Soul of Brutes" in "Dr. Willis's Practice of Physick" (London, 1684).3

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