Beware: studying can make you ill

Great dangers threaten anyone who reads a lot, we learn from Samuel Auguste André David Tissot’s book, Diseases Incidental to Literary and Sedentary Persons, with Proper Rules for Preventing Their Fatal Consequences, and Instructions for Their Cure.

Tissot was a much celebrated doctor based in Switzerland, perhaps best known for his treatise L’Onanisme: Dissertation sur les Maladies Produites par la Masturbation, published in 1774 and reportedly of great influence throughout the continent.

But his analysis of ailing literary persons and advice for them remain as potent as when the book appeared in an English translation in 1768. It bursts with descriptions of the medical side-effects of studying.

So begins this week’s Improbable Research column in The Guardian.