Peter Charles Remondino
Peter Charles Remondino (1846 in Turin, (then) Kingdom of Sardinia – 10 December 1926 in San Diego, California, USA) was a prominent San Diego, California medical doctor, author in the late 19th century. He is famous for his 1891 book that promoted male circumcision.
Life before San Diego
Remondino was born in 1846 in Turin (Torino) Piedmont, (Piemonte in Italian), which is now a region of Italy. Remondino migrated to America with his father at the age of eight. The family moved to Minnesota where he grew up.
Remondino spoke several languages, including French, German, Latin, and Sioux.
Neither Peter nor Charles are Italian names so he apparently anglicized his names at some point.
Remondino entered Jefferson Medical School at Philadelphia in 1863. After medical school he served the United States Army as a medical doctor during the Civil War. He had some illness that he contracted from the bite of a mosquito.
After he returned to Minnesota, he continued to have health issues. He moved to San Diego where he believed the climate would be beneficial to his health in 1873, where he seems to have recovered his health. He practiced medicine and surgery there,
Life in San Diego
Remondino married Sophia Ann Earle on Sept. 27, 1877 in San Diego, California. They had four children.
The doctor has been vice-president of the State Medical Society, president of the Southern California Medical Society, and president of The San Diego County Medical Society, while he served two terms, eight years in all, as a member of the State Board of Health, and for thirty-five years was a member of the Board of the U. S. Pension Examiners. For twelve years he occupied the Chair of the History of Medicine and of Medical Bibliography in the Medical Department of the University of Southern California, in the College of Physicians and Surgeons, in Los Angeles.
He co-founded San Diego's first hospital.
Remondino's History of Circumcision
Remondino published a curious book in 1891 entitled HISTORY OF CIRCUMCISION FROM THE EARLIEST TIMES TO THE PRESENT: Moral and Physical Reasons for its Performance, with a HISTORY OF EUNUCHISM, HERMAPHRODISM, ETC., AND OF THE DIFFERENT OPERATIONS PRACTICED UPON THE PREPUCE.
Although Remondino professed Christianity, he advocated non-therapeutic Jewish circumcision for Christians as a measure for both moral and physical health.
Remondino evidently detested the prepuce, a normal, healthy human body part, which he described as:
It is not alone the tight-constricted, glans-deforming, onanism-producing, cancer-generating prepuce that is the particular variety of prepuce that is at the bottom of the ills and ailments, local or constitutional, that may affect man through its presence. The loose, pendulous prepuce, or even the prepuce in the evolutionary stage of disappearance, that only loosely covers one-half of the glans, is as dangerous as his long and constricted counterpart.
Was Remondino circumcised?
Remondino's distaste and dislike for the prepuce or foreskin prompts one to ask how a man could stand to have a prepuce which he detested attached to his body? History does not tell us his circumcision status, but modern psychology may give us a clue. We now know that circumcised men who become fathers and circumcised doctors express a preference for circumcision as Remondino did. Moreover, circumcision is a traumatic procedure. Traumatized persons have a compulsion to repeat the trauma on others. Remondino performed numerous circumcisions. Something compelled Remondino to write a large 346-page book to extol the alleged virtues and benefits of male circumcision.
If Remondino was circumcised, how would it have occurred? When Remondino was born in Turin in 1846, only Jews circumcised their infant boys, which was done by a mohel. There is some speculation that Remondino was descended from Sephardic Jews, so he may have had a ritual Jewish circumcision.
Circumcision of adults became common after Lewis Albert Sayre (1870) performed a circumcision on a child, claimed a cure for epilepy, and spinal paralysis, started to perform circumcisions and popularized the surgery, so he may have been circumcised as an adult. If he was indeed circumcised, then Remondino may be considered to be a victim of circumcision.
Gollaher (1994) wrote:
To a modern reader, Remondino's "facts" appear to be a rambling, slapdash collection of folklore, conjecture, opinion, and pseudo-science. Hardly more scrupulous a scientist than he was an historian, he had absorbed just enough of Darwin to infer that the foreskin was a primitive vestige of the evolutionary past. "With improvement in man's condition and his gradual evolution into a higher sphere," Remondino confidently insisted, "the prepuce became a superfluity." And a nefarious one at that.
Born with "this unyielding tube," he estimated, ninety-five percent of uncircumcised men suffered some degree of phimosis. Although he accepted Sayre's claims at face value, Remondino was prepared to go much farther, contending that the most common diseases associated with the foreskin were not matters of reflex neurosis at all. These included rheumatic disorders, asthma, Bright's disease and other renal infections, and more ominously, impotence, malignant epithelioma and syphilis. In light of these perils, he asserted, "life-insurance companies should class the wearer of the prepuce under the head of hazardous risks."
Remondino's book was the product of the era of opinion-based medicine. In the contemporary era of science-based medicine, his ideas have long been disproved. Unfortunately, his ideas have taken root in the American psyche and still maliciously influence popular attitudes toward the foreskin and circumcision.
- Young, Hugh.
The prepuce might have read the hand-writing on the wall, Circumstitions. Retrieved 22 April 2020.
- Remondino, Peter C..
Peter Charles Remondino Autobiography (1846-1926), sandiegohistory.org, San Diego Historical Society. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
- Remondino, Peter (1891): HISTORY OF CIRCUMCISION FROM THE EARLIEST TIMES TO THE PRESENT: Moral and Physical Reasons for its Performance, with a HISTORY OF EUNUCHISM, HERMAPHRODISM, ETC., AND OF THE DIFFERENT OPERATIONS PRACTICED UPON THE PREPUCE. Philadelphia: F. A. Davis. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
- Remondino, Peter (1891):
Preface, in: The History of Circumcision. pp. iii. Philadelphia: F. A. Davis. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
- Taddio, Anna / Morton Goldbach / Moshe Ipp / Bonnie Stevens / Gideon Koren (4 February 1995): Effect of neonatal circumcision on pain responses during vaccination in boys, in: Lancet. 345: 291-2, PMID, DOI. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
- van der Kolk, Bessell (June 1989): The compulsion to repeat the trauma: re-enactment, revictimization, and masochism, in: Psychiatr Clin North Am. 12 (2): 389-411, PMID. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
- Remondino, Peter (1891):
Chapter XXVI, in: The History of Circumcision. pp. iii. Philadelphia: F. A. Davis. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
- Sayre, Lewis A. (15 July 1870): Circumcision versus epilepsy, etc; Transcription of the New York Pathological Society meeting of June 8, 1870, in: Medical Record. 5 (10): 231-234.
- Sayre, Lewis (1870): Partial paralysis from reflex irritation, caused by congenital phimosis and adherent prepuce, in: Transactions of the American Medical Association. 21: 205-11.
- Gollaher, David L. (September 1994): From ritual to science: the medical transformation of circumcision in America, in: Journal Of Social History. 28 (1): 5-36. Retrieved 21 May 2020.