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Eroica, folle e visionaria

Eroica, folle e visionaria speaks of self-experiments and self-experimenters, doctors who have decided to try their ideas directly on themselves, often with a touch of madness and recklessness, sometimes with sincere altruism and stubborn courage. On the other hand, for every new medicine or for every new medical technique there must have been a first “user”. A discovery must be tried on someone to be sure it works. That someone, in many cases, was the same who had the intuition and decided to put his body into it to prove that he was right. Sometimes the gesture did not lead to appreciable results and was lost in thin air, other times it was fatal; in some cases it paved the way for a Nobel Prize and marked a fundamental advancement of our knowledge. But why experiment on yourself? The highest motivation is a generous “I would never do to others what I do not have the courage to do to myself”. But reading the many stories told in this book one discovers that there are also those who did it only for convenience, either because they were not believed by anyone, or because they were simply unable to trust anyone else. Silvia Bencivelli writes with an ironic and light pen, touching on the key topics of the relationship between medicine, society and power, involving the reader in some of the most incredible stories of medicine, from the seventeenth century to the present day.

Silvia Bencivelli is a science journalist. She is co-host of Nautilus, a daily science program on Rai Scuola and Radio3 Scienza on Radio Rai. He collaborates with La Repubblica, Le Scienze and several other newspapers and publishing houses. He teaches at the Master of Scientific Journalism of the Sapienza University of Rome. With Sironi she published Perché ci piace la musica (2007, 2012). With Einaudi she published Sospettosi, noi e i nostri dubbi sulla scienza (2019).