Managing a medical family crisis within Finnish nobility. Catarina Elisabet von Born's illness 1834-1835

Aktivitet: Tal eller presentationKonferenspresentation


A medical crisis is very much a crisis of the seriously ill individual, and of the people closest to him or her. Through history people have responded to disease in different ways, and the cultural meanings have varied as well as the medical knowledge.

In this paper I use a patient-oriented perspective in order to study a medical crisis that hit the family of Senator Samuel Fredrik von Born in 1834–1835 in Finland. The mother of the family, Catarina Elisabet von Born, fell seriously ill. Her attempts to cure her disease were described by herself and by several of her family members in both letters and diary entries. Thanks to this it is possible to get a clear picture of how the family managed the crisis that the mother’s illness was to all of them – individually and collectively. In May 1835, just a couple of months before her death, the family travelled to Copenhagen in Denmark to consult physicians in the hope of finding a cure for Catarina Elisabet von Born’s disease – but with no luck. In October 1835 she died, diagnosed with consumption, on her way home from Copenhagen.

By using the family as a case study it’s possible to show the possible effects of a medical crisis within families belonging to the nobility of Finland: what was their response to the crisis and how did they manage it? In this I include existential and relational aspects of a crisis as well as aspects of trust and faith.
Period31 aug. 2023
HändelsetitelThe European Association for the History of Medicine and Health-conference: Crisis in Health and Medicine
Typ av evenemangKonferens
PlatsOslo, NorgeVisa på karta


  • history
  • medical history
  • health
  • medicine
  • crisis
  • 19th century
  • Finland
  • nobility