A boy suffering from congenital syphilis. The suffering this illness caused in pre-penicillin eras was completely excruciating. Approximately 15 percent of the entire population of Paris was believed to carry the disease by the end of the 19th century. Syphilis was shameful in these times, as many men got it from prostitutes working at brothels and whorehouses - symbols of decadence and debauchery in the public eyes - where it roamed free and untamed. Many people suffered in silence for whole lifetimes, subjecting themselves to treatments as horrible, prolonged and dehumanizing as the sickness itself.
See, syphilis does not necessarily kill you right away; many lived with their horrible syphilitic terror for 40 years or more. A most sinister, detailed account for it in can be found in the diary later published as La doulou: extraits du journal d’Edmond de Goncourt, describing french writers Alphonse Daudet’s gruesome ordeal in late 1800’s France.