According to Thomsen (1978), the earliest known medical report of SHC was in the 1671 issue of Medical Acts, in which a Professor Jacobsen describes a woman in Paris who drank so much alcohol that, while sleeping in a chair, she burst into flames. Alcohol is a frequently-cited culprit in accounts of SHC: see, for example, Julia Fontanelle’s report to the Royal Academy of Medicine of Paris (Revue Medicale, June 1828). Such speculation reflects the strong temperance-oriented sentiments of the fifteenth through eighteenth centuries, and has been met in the medical community with great skepticism (Lancet, 1828; Scientific American, 1869). Despite the lack of conclusive evidence and almost universal skepticism, the subject continued to be addressed now and again in twentieth century forensic and medical literature (e.g., Adelson, 1952; Gromb et al., 2000).
“Spontaneous Human Combustion” also happens to be the name of an instrumental by the group Celestial Serenity, led by my friend Joshua Leon, on which I guest as keyboard player. This is sheer coincidence. Or synchronicity. You can preview and/or purchase the track at Bandcamp.
|Richard coincidentally plays keyboards on the instrumental "Spontaneous Human Combustion"|
from Celestial Serenity's The City of the Golden Gates (2015).
For Further Reading (some links have paywalls)
Lester Adelson, “Spontaneous Human Combustion and Preternatural Combustibility,” Journal of Criminal Law, Criminology, and Police Science, 1952 42(6): 793–809.
Anonymous, “Foreign Department: On Human Spontaneous Combustion,” Lancet 1828, 2: 552–4.
Anonymous, “Spontaneous Combustion of the Human Body,” Scientific American, Dec 25, 1869; 21(26): 404.
S. Gromb, X. Lavigne, G. Kerautret, N. Grosleron-Gros, and P. Dabadie, “Spontaneous Human Combustion: A Sometimes Incomprehensible Phenomenon,” Journal of Clinical Forensic Medicine 2000 7: 29–31.
M. Thomsen, “Spontaneous Human Combustion,” Burns 1978, 5(1): 54 – 9.
Wikipedia article on Spontaneous Human Combustion