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Thread: CPR in fantasy?

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW srgalactica's Avatar
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    CPR in fantasy?

    Would CPR in a fantasy novel be completely unbelievable? I'm referring to traditional fantasy, rather than urban or contemporary. The character doing the CPR is a healer.

    Also, what might CPR be called in a fantasy novel, since CPR stands for cardio pulmonary resuscitation and I highly doubt anyone in a fantasy novel would refer to it as such.



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    The Crazy Man in the Sun. Feel me. WillSauger's Avatar
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    Breath into his mouth.

    Push on his chest.
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    practical experience, FTW RobertEvert's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by srgalactica View Post
    Would CPR in a fantasy novel be completely unbelievable? I'm referring to traditional fantasy, rather than urban or contemporary. The character doing the CPR is a healer.

    Also, what might CPR be called in a fantasy novel, since CPR stands for cardio pulmonary resuscitation and I highly doubt anyone in a fantasy novel would refer to it as such.
    I think it depends upon the world you've developed. Is it connected at all to "our" world? If so, it might work fine.

    What could you call it? The giving of life? Something like that? The touch of life??? I'll have to think about this.
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    Onwards, ever onwards ClareGreen's Avatar
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    The idea of 'add breathing, make heart go' isn't particularly revolutionary when you know what breathing and hearts do.

    As for other terms - Breath of life/Kiss of life?
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    practical experience, FTW srgalactica's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobertEvert View Post
    I think it depends upon the world you've developed. Is it connected at all to "our" world? If so, it might work fine.

    What could you call it? The giving of life? Something like that? The touch of life??? I'll have to think about this.
    It's not connected to our world at all. Tech level would be steel swords, no indoor plumbing (not sure if that helps)

    Though I was thinking about Game of Thrones and there is mention of CPR once that I can think of.

    I wasn't being terribly clear. I guess I was looking for terminology. For example, the healer knows about stitches to close a wound and uses the term 'stitches', but you couldn't say CPR in a fantasy novel with that tech level...so maybe just the description of what it is he's doing, as Will said.



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    George RR Martin did it in A Feast for Crows with Aeron Greyjoy and the Ironmen.

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    I fight like a dairy farmer Corussa's Avatar
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    I don't have a problem with CPR in fantasy, but then I like my fantasy as 'sensible' as possible.

    As for ideas of what to call it...
    • spirit return
    • breath of life (though that makes me think of 'kiss of life')
    • godsbreath
    • soul catching
    • pound and puff (bit more literal/physical, I suppose)
    • inspira, reanima, vitalia, etc., if you like Latin-sourced names, or from some other language


    Those are increasingly lame, I know. You'll come up with something good.
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    practical experience, FTW benbenberi's Avatar
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    Given that modern CPR (where you combine chest compression with artificial respiration) was only invented ca. 1960, and that even effective artificial respiration was only developed in the 19c, I would find the existence of real CPR in a medievaloid fantasy setting stretching the limits of credibility, unless it's presented in a cultural/medical context that can paper over the anachronism.

    Quote Originally Posted by ClareGreen View Post
    The idea of 'add breathing, make heart go' isn't particularly revolutionary when you know what breathing and hearts do.
    No one knew what hearts were for till the 17c. (William Harvey.)

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    Company Man MattW's Avatar
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    I've seen rescue breathing in fantasy - it's actually pretty common for drowned characters. I used to cringe, thinking it was a modern thing, but if someone has drowned or nearly drowned, beating on them to get the water out is a pretty believable reaction.

    Handled correctly, with the right background, it should be okay.
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    I recall reading about a hanging that took place in the 18th century. After the body was taken down, it was taken by his friends, who revived him by rubbing his limbs.

  11. #11
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    As a reader I'd want to see a bit of background as to how the characters learned the technique but I don't have nay problem with the basic concept.

  12. #12
    That hairy-handed gent
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    No. Modern CPR came along no more than 50 years ago. I recall being taught in Boy Scouts the ridiculous arm-wavy thing that preceded it, back in the late 1950s. Prior to that, people mainly used prayer and magic.

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    Heckuva good sport frimble3's Avatar
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    I would find 'artificial respiration' aka 'forcing the breath back into him' more believable than chest compressions. Unless someone was pounding on him, yelling "Live, damn you, live!" and just got lucky, in which case, as a reader, I'd probably think it was way too coincidental that they just hit him right.

  14. #14
    can totally spell Brobdinrgnagrian buzhidao's Avatar
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    Depends on what you want to do with it...

    CPR itself is rather modern. The thing is that it's not really useful for what people think it's for (according to my CPR classes, anyway--someone feel free to correct me ).

    In most fiction, CPR is treated as a magical bringing-people-back-to-life maneuver. However, it doesn't typically restart a heart or bring someone back from no circulation/no breathing. What it does is keep the blood flow going to prevent brain damage while you wait for someone with a defibrillator.

    I'd shoot for some form of defibrillation, if your world allows it and if you're planning on bringing someone back from cardiac arrest...or...well, it depends a lot on your world's understanding of medicine and what the function of it is.

    I could believe it if your character thought breathing into a breathless (so to speak) person would help. If the healer understand things like the heart and circulation and blahblah, I might believe he'll try to start the heart in whatever way possible...but to actually call it CPR might be a bit of a stretch...

  15. #15
    Benefactor Member Roxxsmom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blacbird View Post
    No. Modern CPR came along no more than 50 years ago. I recall being taught in Boy Scouts the ridiculous arm-wavy thing that preceded it, back in the late 1950s. Prior to that, people mainly used prayer and magic.

    caw
    Not strictly true. While CPR was invented fairly recently in our world (the 1950's I believe), there were other methods of resuscitating people that go back to ancient times, with varying degrees of success.

    There are records of people using fireplace bellows to get people breathing going waaaay back (and also, the use of smoke). And there were drowning rescue societies that formed in the 18th centuries that had various techniques besides "prayer and magic" as well, including rolling people over barrels, compressing the abdomen, and elevating the victim's feet. But they were obviously far more hit or miss than modern CPR.

    How plausible it would be for your fantasy world to have a more sophisticated form of CPR-like resuscitation would depend on how advanced their medical knowledge is. There is a chance, of course, that someone could also stumble across something analogous and notice that it worked without knowing exactly why.

    And even in a pre-industrial style fantasy world, it may be possible for healers to be more sophisticated than they were in the "real" middle ages or Renaissance, if for instance, their healers have some kind of magical healing sense that informs them about the circulation of blood and some other things that were not fully elucidated until the 17th century or even later.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History..._resuscitation

    http://www.articlesbase.com/medicine...pr-554584.html

    http://www.hartfirstresponse.org.uk/CPRhistory.html

    These links might help get your research started
    Last edited by Roxxsmom; 12-20-2012 at 12:20 PM.
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    practical experience, FTW benbenberi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roxxsmom View Post
    There are records of people using fireplace bellows to get people breathing going waaaay back (and also, the use of smoke).
    The origin of the phrase "blow smoke up your ass."

    That was literally what they did. It was a common practice.

    It didn't work.

  17. #17
    Edit . . . Edit . . . Edit . . . WriterWho's Avatar
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    Adding my ideas for a name:

    1. Life's Kiss
    2. Life's Breath
    3. Life's Touch
    4. Life's Trace
    5. Pulse Touch (kind of like that one)
    6. Pulse Whisper

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    practical experience, FTW srgalactica's Avatar
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    Wow! Thanks for all of the information! I did some research too, last night after my boyfriend mentioned that the Egyptians had pretty sophisticated medical knowledge.

    I think I'm going to go ahead and use it and if the book ever gets an agent or publisher and they don't like it, it can always be changed.

    Just gotta say, everyone on this site is pretty damn awesome. Thanks again!



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    Ummm, they were considered to be the best physicians at the time. They certainly had more practical anatomy knowledge due to all the mummification going on.

    However, their methods simply don't hold up.

  20. #20
    That hairy-handed gent
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roxxsmom View Post
    Not strictly true. While CPR was invented fairly recently in our world (the 1950's I believe), there were other methods of resuscitating people that go back to ancient times, with varying degrees of success.
    Pretty much reiterating what I said. The question was asked specifically about CPR, not about a spectrum of other resuscitation techniques, and I replied addressing CPR, which is a specific modern resuscitation protocol.

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  21. #21
    practical experience, FTW srgalactica's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blacbird View Post
    Pretty much reiterating what I said. The question was asked specifically about CPR, not about a spectrum of other resuscitation techniques, and I replied addressing CPR, which is a specific modern resuscitation protocol.

    caw
    I was being unclear, it seems. I specifically said CPR, but I guess that's because I wasn't sure how else to phrase it. I just meant would it be completely unbelievable in a fantasy for a healer to know or to have figured out that with a drowning victim not breathing and with no pulse, that the mouth-to-mouth, and chest compressions might work.

    A little more background that I should have given, is that the healer comes from a race of people that live on the coast, always near water. I'm figuring over thousands of years, they might have figured this out.

    You guys have given me tons to consider!



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    I don't see why a Fantasy world should be subject to the restrictions of what's dogma in this world.

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    practical experience, FTW benbenberi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by srgalactica View Post
    A little more background that I should have given, is that the healer comes from a race of people that live on the coast, always near water. I'm figuring over thousands of years, they might have figured this out.!
    Given that none of the races of humans who lived on coasts always near water in our world never figured out mouth-to-mouth respiration or chest compression either separately or in combination till the 20c -- there's no reason to assume some fantasy group of people could not have gotten there quicker, but equally no reason to assume they would have, and a pretty heavy burden of implausibility to lift.

    (Bear in mind that those practices seem obvious to us because we've grown up with them as being obvious, and we take for granted the underlying physiological assumptions -- but the fact remains that there's nothing actually obvious about them, taken outside of that cultural matrix. Our ancestors for thousands of years were not stupid, and yet - no established practice of mouth to mouth or chest compression, anywhere, ever.)

    Taking it a step further -- we frequently ascribe magical healing powers to CPR that it does not in fact possess. Ask anybody with actual EMT or ER experience what CPR is really good for, and how often it works: not what the lay person assumes from the media treatments.

    You can certainly do whatever your story demands in your fantasy setting -- but keep in mind that context matters, and ideas & practices tend to exist in a matrix, not in isolation.

  24. #24
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Perhaps srgalactica if you were to fill us in a bit more on your proposed world other than 'low technology' we might be better able to give you a useful answer. as to whether or not 'CPR' is feasible. How prelevant. powerful, is magic/divine intervention? Was there one an older more advanced civilization that fell and had this knowledge? I think that once you start working out the rest of your world you will be able to determine if 'CPR' is reasonable.

  25. #25
    A Gentleman of a refined age... thothguard51's Avatar
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    If I remember right, seaman use to do a crude form of CPR for drowning victims. They would put them stomach down on a barrel, pick up their legs and roll them back and forth. It served two functions. 1, they would vomit the water out of their lungs and 2, the action of vomiting would start the heart again from the muscles compressing and releasing as the person vomited.

    Of course, this could be an old wives tale told by wives of old sailors...
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