The Elephant Man
The Elephant Man

This page is dedicated to one of my inspirations, Joseph Carrey Merrick, commonly known as the Elephant Man. He was a gentle man trapped in a grossly misfigured body. He was subject to more degration and humliation then any person ever should have. The only thing he ever wished for and dreamed of was love and exceptance. He died wishing for these things.

Background:

Joseph Carey Merrick was born in South London in the late 1800's. He was born incredibly disfigured, subject to a rare disease. The exact disease is not known, but there have been several hypothesis. At first he was thought to have a disease called Elephantatis, but later people began to think it was Neurofibromatosis, a syndrome in which a person's body is incredibly disfigured and growths of skin form on a person's body. In the late 90's however, medical researchers began to think that he might have a had an ultra-rare condition called Proteus Syndrome, because he didn't display the other symptoms of Neurofibromatosis. What ever disease he had, he had one of the worst cases (if not the worst) ever documented. The following is a physical description of Joseph Merrick, taken from the book "The Elephant Man," written by Christine Sparks:

"His head was enormous and misshapen, it's circumference as big as a man's waist. From the brow there projected a huge bony mass, almost obscuring the right eye, and the nose was a lump of flesh, recognizable only by it's position.
From the upper jaw projected another mass of bone that protruded from the mouth like a stump, turning the upper lip inside out, making the mouth little but a slobbering aperture.
The head was almost bald, except for a handful of lank, black hair at the top. At the back of the head hung a bag of spongy skin, resembling cauliflower. His right arm was enormous and shapeless, the hand a knot of tuberous roots. Indeed it could barely be called a hand; it was more like a fin or a paddle, with the back and palm being exactly alike. The left arm was not only normal, but delicately shaped with fine skin. It was a hand that a woman might have envied."

The story of Joseph Merrick has been retold in several books, was made into a Broadway play, in which the role of the Elephant Man was once played by David Bowie, and was made into a very dramatic movie by Paramount. Contrary to popular belief, the remains of Joseph Merrick has never been in the possesion of Michael Jackson.
While Joseph was living in the London hospital, he made a cardboard model of a nearby church. From where his point of view lay, he could only see half of the church, the rest he created from his own imagination. This model is on exhibit at the London Hospital.

The story of Joseph is somewhat sketchy. He was born in a small town in England in the late 1800's. He was orphaned at about age 11 when his mother died. He had to work in a factory, also known as a workhouse, to support himself. When he got older, he worked in the freak show of a traveling carnival. A Doctor, Victor Treves, found him there and took him away from the carnival, because he wanted to gain fame as a great physican. He put Merrick on display in front of a group of doctors and talked of his disfigurement.