Director: Well then I am very sorry, Agent Washington…but Project Freelancer no longer has need of your services.
Director: …Agent Maine, please kill Agent Washington.
Thank god for Tajima
(The images in this should be collapsed to begin with because, well, one of them is a plate of raw meat that Steve is presumably eating for breakfast. The last image is a gif. Contains discussion of illness, treatments, ableism and eugenics. I should point out first that I don’t have any of these conditions other than asthma.)
So many fics focus only on skinny Steve’s asthma and portray him as being as minimally disabled as possible. Let’s just remember that according to all the various sources (the Disneyland poster, the form Steve hands in to enlist in the film) that Steve:
- Had astigmatism - so he’d’ve had poor eye sight. I’ve also seen sources that say Steve is colour blind although I couldn’t find them again for writing this or to check what kind of colour blind Steve could be - it could be anything from red-green colour blindness to trichromatic colour blindness, but I’m not sure.
- Had scoliosis - this is where the spine bends in a way that isn’t part of the typical S-shaped curve, so his spine would’ve bent to the side. It’s not a life threatening condition but it can be quite noticeable and I’ve not seen a single fic that’s taken it into account.
- Was partially deaf. Again, I’ve never read a fic that mentions anyone speaking up for Steve to hear.
- Had arrhythmia, an irregular heartbeat; he also had heart palpitations, high blood pressure and the more generic heart trouble. I’ve also seen something saying he had angina, chest pain caused by restricted blood supply to the heart muscles.
- He also had rheumatic fever at some point which causes red ring-like rashes on the limbs and can affect the brain, joints and heart - which given Steve already had heart problems is not a good thing. It affects older children up to the mid teens. It is treated with aspirin - which is hard on the stomach and unfortunately for little Steve, he also has:
- Stomach ulcers. These are extremely painful and can be caused or made worse by drugs like aspirin. Stomach ulcers can be very dangerous if complications arise.
- Another stomach complication Steve had was pernicious anaemia, which until the 20s was basically a death sentence. It’s a condition where an enzyme necessary to absorb vitamin B12 is not produced and the patient becomes progressively more anaemic until they suffer complications such as neurological damage or simply die (hence the word “pernicious”). Until 1928 the only treatment was to drink copious quantities of the juice from raw liver (more than a pint a day) or eat half a pound of raw liver a day, which contains the enzyme (cooking would destroy the enzyme). From ‘28, Steve was presumably relieved to hear, a liver extract was produced so that the quantity of liver juice one had to drink was 50x less and was also cheaper. The other symptoms were pretty much the same as other kinds of anaemia.
What do you mean you aren’t hungry?
- Steve also had flat feet (less serious but with everything else this kid isn’t running anywhere)
- He had scarlet fever as a child, which causes a sore throat, bright red rash, and can kill - especially as it can cause heart complications.
- Steve’s mother was diabetic- his admission form states that he has a parent or sibling with diabetes, and since it’s automatic disqualification from the army and he has no siblings, that means it must be his mother (unless you don’t think Steve’s dad served in the army at all and he’s just lying to serve with Bucky.) Steve has a higher risk for diabetes. This in itself isn’t going to limit him at this stage in the proceedings, but it doesn’t make him popular with eugenicists either.
- Generally his respiratory system is struggling - he gets sinusitis and frequent colds to go along with his…
Asthma can be pretty dangerous especially for someone with a heart condition, since symptoms of a severe attack can include arrhythmia. In the 1930s, inhalers were difficult for one person to use (especially if that one person was having an asthma attack), but asthma cigarettes were easily available, considerably cheaper, and hallucinogenic. They did work to a degree, but were nothing compared to today’s relievers. There were also dry powder inhalers, and if you could get hold of one, atomizers and electronic nebulizers for delivering medication.
Beyond this, in the 30s, 40s and 50s, asthma was considered a psychosomatic condition - an imagined product of mental illness due to the child crying inside the sufferer during an attack - so talking therapy was used as treatment as well. Steve would’ve been considered both physically frail and mentally ill because of his asthma.
- Really, it isn’t a surprise that to go with this he has “nervous trouble" and suffers from fatigue - hell, it’s tiring just to be Steve. It’s also no wonder that he’s so small, given that his body was under so much stress whilst he was growing.
So what does this all mean for little Steve? Pre-serum Steve is chronically ill from birth or childhood, probably due to complications in birth or his earlier illnesses (there seem to be a lot of things happening in his respiratory system and stomach), and some of which is evidence of what at the time would be considered poor genetics.
People often associate eugenics with the Nazis, but its real home is rooted in the 20th century USA, and it was in full swing in the 20s and 30s. Many German eugenics research programs received their finding from the US before the war. Although as a white man living in New York Steve would’ve been safe from forcible sterilisation or euthanasia, public sentiment was overwhelmingly supportive of casting anyone framed as a dependent on the state or a fault in the gene pool cast out.
Eugenics was legal and mandated, and whilst Steve was growing up, thousands of impoverished women and state dependent children, especially women of colour and mentally ill women were forcibly sterilised by the state, and many people living in mental institutions or care homes were allowed to die of neglect.
His mother’s death due to TB would also have made him a target for this kind of thinking - in fact, tuberculosis was used as a method for targeting those with “inferior” genetics (whilst “superior” individuals would supposedly be immune) for euthanasia for eugenics purposes - in one mental institution, new patients were given infected milk to kill off those susceptible.
Ironically, Captain America and the superserum are essentially an experiment in eugenics, which really reflects just how widespread this attitude was in the 40s. I’m analysing Steve for purposes of fic writing and not any genuine critical analysis here, but there’s no getting away from it: they put a chronically ill, disabled man in, and they get a genetically engineered super-soldier out.
Steve actually surviving both rheumatic and scarlet fever with asthma, heart problems and no antibiotics is pretty much a miracle in itself at this stage, and I guess we should all be grateful that Sarah Rogers was a nurse, because things like half decent atomizers to treat asthma were expensive and hard to obtain.
When Bucky is talking about Steve having nothing to prove, he’s not just talking about a small guy who is too sickly to join the army - he’s talking about someone who would’ve been considered an invalid and unworthy among his peers and made to feel like a dependent all of his life. Steve has to prove everything to everyone except Bucky, the only person who values Steve for himself and not against criteria of fitness or health, and most of all he needs to prove to himself that the things he’s internalised about himself aren’t true.
tl;dr: Basically, it’s time to start portraying Steve accurately in fic and stop glossing over aspects of his health that aren’t as fun to write as an asthma attack.
warning for disturbing headcanon wrt eugenics in the US:
how to spell circles like
for photoshop, thought as long as your program allow to make elipses, or other shapes and use layers, it should work too :P
some 4am “tutorial” thing I made :’D
I got a LITTLE excited to color some glowing bloods…
oh boy here we go
a weak and tortured bucky making sure steve gets to safety first
It’s because Bucky has a habit of letting Steve go first.
1) Always let Steve go first up the stairs, so that you can keep an eye on him. It’s easier to count Steve’s breaths and notice when Steve’s heart does that thing that makes him stop and shake. Much easier to stop and pretend to tie your shoes while you wait, worried, than to realize 2 flights too late that Steve’s no longer with you.
Later: Your limbs are sore and numb from being strapped to a table for 2 days and you’re pretty sure you haven’t eaten and the entire base might be exploding, but when Steve says “let’s go up,” you tell him to go first.
2) Steve’s walk was mostly normal, though he swung his hips in a certain way to compensate for his scoliosis, and that put a special cadence to his stride that you unconsciously match. Even without Steve around you would twist your hip back before swinging your leg forward. Twist, swing, twist, swing.
Later: Steve is leading the way through the forest, and you’re finally used to his height and broad shoulders and that dumb shield, but something still feels wrong. Somehow your pace doesn’t quite match, and you can’t figure out why.
3) Colors don’t work the same with Steve, so always describe unfamiliar objects by their shape and relative location, like that square window past the third door on the left, or the man wearing that unseasonably long coat standing in the corner by the garbage can.
Later: The boys are singing in the other room and you’re at the bar with Steve, trying very hard to get drunk because of course you’ll follow Steve into whatever but that doesn’t mean you have to do it sober. “Steve,” you whisper, “Check out that lady by the door, next to that short thin guy who has his shirt open.” Steve looks over. “The one in the red dress? That’s Miss Carter.” You can’t decide what surprises you more — that Steve can see red now, or that he knows her name. So you decide you need another drink.
4) When walking down a narrow dark alleyway always stay on the right, because Steve’s bad ear makes the right side feel blind to him (though damn if Steve’d ever admit that). On broad open streets, switch to Steve’s left side, so that Steve could hear you better through the noise.
Later: Dum-Dum gives you a weird look as you line up to charge into a Hydra base. “Why won’t you take the left flank for a change?” You start explaining Steve’s bad ear before you remember that he’s not that Steve any more, and that Captain America doesn’t have a bad ear.
5) Stuff in your left pockets are for Steve: the asthma cigarettes that Steve could never afford, a dime for that popcorn that Steve likes, tickets for whatever shindig you’re trying to drag Steve along to. Sometimes you put things there for Steve and totally forget about it, like extra paper and a spare pencil in case Steve wants to doodle. The left side always belongs to Steve.
Later: Steve is awfully quiet by the campfire. You sit down by his good ear and reach into your left pocket. “Hey,” you say, pulling out a news clipping about the war front that featured a lovely photo of Miss Carter. “You read this yet? They think Morita’s a Japanese defector, but the section on Dernier is priceless.”
Report on the Winter Soldier reset procedures
After the latest test run, only the following anomalies remain:
A) The asset tends to hug the right walls and not the left, and hesitates for 30 microseconds before climbing stairs. However, he does not hesitate when scaling walls or ladders.
B) When walking unopposed the asset has a characteristic and identifiable stride, which is dropped when he is making a covered approach.
C) The asset communicates via relative locations, often omitting crucial color information. However, he can be commanded to describe the colors of any object in impressive detail.
D) When dressing himself, the asset keeps his knives exclusively on his right side, and his left pockets are underutilized. This may be an effect of continued unfamiliarity with the new left arm.
After extensive field testing, we have determined that these anomalies do not impede the asset from completing his missions, and declare the reset process complete.
(Some habits linger, even when the person is gone.)
[and now with colorblindness commentary]
The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that psychiatrists cannot reliably tell the difference between people who are mentally stable and those who are mentally unstable.
8 mentally stable people were granted admission into 12 different hospitals. They all told the same story of how they would hear a voice inside their head, it was unclear but often said “empty”, “hollow” and “thud”.
Right after they were admitted, the patients stopped showing any signs of abnormality. They took part in activities and talked to faculty and other patients as they would normally.
None of the psychiatrists ever stopped to say “I think they are getting better” or “they seem absolutely fine now” In fact, nurses and psychiatrists took normal activity such as walking or writing and attempted to represent it as a form of pathological behavior.
For example, staff would point to patients waiting outside the lunchroom as a form of oral-acquisitive syndrome, when really they were just bored and were anticipating their meal.
It’s interesting to note that even though staff didn’t recognize that these people were completely fine, patients recognized that they didn’t seem to have any problems.
This study highlights how powerful labels can be.
Wow…this also potentially bespeaks how the people who are charged with making these patients better are only trying to create terminology and atmosphere that keep them institutionalized.
That’s pretty disturbing.
To anyone saying “well they said they heard voices obviously the doctors are going to look at them with a weary eye”
You missed the point.
They were supposed to detect the patients getting better and instead of being able to tell that, they took any action that the patients performed and totally distorted it and blew it to epic proportions to make them seem completely and utterly abnormal to a point where the patients were institutionalized for months.
Also, sixpenceee, you missed the second part to this experiment - equally chilling, in my opinion. One hospital’s administration was angered by Rosenhan’s experiment, and challenged him to send impostor patients - mentally stable people masquerading as mentally unstable people - to their facilities. Their staff would then turn those pseudopatients away. Long story short, Rosenhan OK’d this part of the experiment. 193 people went to that hospital in that experiment period looking for help. They flagged 41 people as impostors and had doubts about another 42.
Rosenhan sent no one.
The staff of this hospital flagged impostor patients where none had existed.
That’s really worrying…
This is terrifying