And Dr. Louis Guggenbuhl
The first, a word with modern horror story connotations, of mental deficiency and physical deformity; but with roots in humanity, decency, even in times when other handicaps were mocked. The second, a doctor who cared, in the 19th Century, and established a hospice, treatments that fell just short of identifying the dietary culprit. And then, the local population that for centuries accepted this group, cared reasonably for them, a rarity for the disabled and handicapped in the Middle Ages, any era.
It carries its history in the name itself - this need not be a derogatory term on its own; and can even help describe modern distorted thought, when there is a cure for modern ills, if we would only educate ourselves and muster the will. The name "Cretin" derives from a population once found in the French Alps, with these places mentioned specifically: Canton Valais, Pays de Vaud, Switzerland; and the less populated parts of Savoy, Aosta, Styria. The word derives from something admirable - the Christians in the area ages ago saw the humanity of the Cretins despite the handicaps, and called them "Christianus Christian," thus "cretin." See ://www.thefreedictionary.com/cretin-
In 1858, a Dr. Guggenbuhl recorded his observations about this condition, see the 1858 observations, at http://www.disabilitymuseum.org/lib/docs/1385.htm. The article (this from 1858) cites many mountainous parts of Europe, widespread. Great deformities of mind and body. The condition is also found in China, "Tartary" and Tibet. Looks like a human thing, geographical (remote), not racial.
There were references to this condition also in Pliny, in Roman times. The populations were in remote areas.
Dr. Guggenbuhl dedicated his life to treatment and cure, using dietary changes, relationship, caring, nurture.
He never isolated, as far as we can find, the cure - specific dietary deficiency of iodine, leading to thyroid dysfuncion. But his dedication is unfathomable. Please read every word of this: The author is Linus P.Brockett at http://www.disabilitymuseum.org/lib/docs/1385.htm
Now, the disease Dr. Guggenbuhl he sought to treat can indeed be treated for thyroid deficiency, simple iodine - see http://everything2.com/title/cretin. For iodine-rich foods, and again the connection to cretinism, see ://www.righthealth.com/Health/Iodine%20Rich%20Foods-s?lid=goog-ads-sb-3320568958
Dr. Guggenbuhl was not alone in caring. History tells us that, miraculously, the cretins were not stoned, locked up, mistreated. Instead, travelers and locals saw them as human despite the handicaps - that is where the name came from - "Christianus Christian" or "cretin," and in those days the designation of full "Christianity" in the handicapped was a rare acceptance of kinds of people usually (and now, still) victimized by the culture at large. See also http://www.reference.com/browse/cretin.
The cure for cretinism turned out to be simple - adjust the thyroid function. Iodine. Once people knew the problem indeed could be solved, they did so. It took education, re-education, and will and resources.
Meander: Just thinking.
Cretinous thinking - to us, the word can be used constructively, if we do it conscious of its roots, and not used as the usual pejorative, a synonym for the R word.
To us, it means thought processes that are intellectually wanting, dysfunctional, but not a birth defect, not hard-wired. Thinking that is "cretinous" - stay with us here, as we explore - can be acceptance of ocean pollution, environmental pollution, species extinctions related directly to human overdevelopment, disease related to tainted food, obsession with profit over the common good. Is that idealistic or what?
That kind of thinking, like other cretinism, can ne fixed if it is diagnosed; or, at least we can get some retroactive improvement. There is no excuse for cretinism any longer unless the person does not know of the treatment, or is kept from it. We need education, an openness to solutions apart from personal gain, all that.
Tropic Thunder. Who is the Cretin? The Sphinx asks. .