1810, April: Young Man’s Internal Heat

In April 1810, an unnamed 20-year-old man was examined by the 'famous professor' Morelli (of the clinic in Pisa). This young man was alcoholic, vomited often, had a pain in his chest in or near his heart, and constant heartburn. It is said that in the early days of this illness, for a few minutes each night the patient could be seen surronded by a 'waxy flame' which was highly mobile and left no trace of itself. In addition, the young man smelled of 'sulfer sensitive' and constantly felt an excessive internal heat.

        Morelli refered the young man to D. M. Vanucci (one of Morelli's students), who prescribed cold baths and the drinking of large amounts of cold water, and in nine days time the ill effects disappeared.

Details, Details...

        The account given above comes from an 1828 article in the Italian journal Annali Universali di Medicina. The author of that article attributed the story to “Lett. med-fisic. del Morelli,” pg. 64. I will try to find this source, and update when I do.

        This strange ailment has been associated with the topic of so-called 'Spontaneous Human Combustion' -- the proposed possibility of a human igniting from the inside of their bodies and burning to a cinder -- for the simple idea that maybe the young man's internal heat was a precursor to possibly combusting. This is all speculation, as there is no real way to prove a connection.

        This odd event is not the only like it, however, as another report was made of abnormal body heat a few years later; follow the 'see also' link below to read more.