The idea of retreating from the world in search of health is alive and well today. People imagine that holidays from everyday routine will renew their health and vigor, and specialised retreats, involving meditation and yoga, offer a more introspective way of achieving health. As Jocelyn Harris’s post about Jane Austen’s unfinished novel Sanditon notes, seaside resorts and spas towns as places to seek health have a fascinating history. While pondering the alienation of the working class, Karl Marx, for example, treated his ailments (and perhaps his hypochondria) by visits to the spa at Karlsbad in Central Europe in the 1870s.
I’m currently working on the American idea of a ‘sanitarium’, a word coined by John Harvey Kellogg, MD. Today the name Kellogg is synonymous with cornflakes but the Seventh Day Adventist Dr Kellogg built his career as the man in charge of the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan.