Dr. Albert Abrams: Controversial Doctor of San Francisco

Dr. Albert Abrams, San Francisco, WS 14/2066

Dr. Albert Abrams, San Francisco, #WS14/2066

Dr. Albert Abrams

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Dr. Albert Abrams was born in San Francisco in 1863.

He graduated from Heidelberg in 1882 with his M.D. degree, and opened up his office in San Francisco in 1883.

In his early years of practice in San Francisco, Abrams had a fine reputation and an important position as a medical educator.

Dr. Albert Abrams was a man of “exceptional intelligence and productivity.”

He quickly built up a large and prosperous practice.

From 1893 to 1898, Dr. Albert Abrams was professor of pathology of the prestigious Cooper Medical College.

One Jewish newspaper referred to him as “our talented young professor.”

He gave a number of lectures on medical subjects, even before his appointment to Cooper Medical College.

In 1897 Abrams demonstrated the value of X-ray in cardiac diagnosis.



But, by the end of the 1890s, Dr. Abrams’ “eccentricities became rather generally known to his colleagues.”

Albert Abrams’ use of hypnotism was pronounced “a bit balmy.”

After 1904, the writings by Dr. Abrams began to emanate “the aroma of quackery.”

Some of Abrams’ theories — such as his diagnosis of cancer, syphilis, and tuberculosis by means of radio and electric analysis — were promoted through numerous lectures he gave in Europe and America, his own writings, and newspaper advertisements.

Abrams established clinics in various cities including London, which featured an electric sign in Trafalgar Square.

Dr. Albert Abrams obtained large financial returns from his clinics, though the medical theories on which they operated were rejected by the medical community.

In San Francisco, it was common to see patients with incurable diseases “left moneyless and hopeless after their electronic treatments” in Abrams’ clinics.

His lectures continued to attract appreciative audiences and favorable mention by such well-known figures as Upton Sinclair.

Abrams even chartered branches of his school in some cities.

However, his medical contemporaries considered him to be “a clever, money-mad neuropath.”



Dr. Albert Abrams became a substantial contributor to the Federation of Jewish Charities of San Francisco.



Dr. Abrams outlived two wives.


He died in 1924 of bronchial pneumonia.


  • Norton B. Stern, “Dr. Albert Abrams,” Western States Jewish History 41/1.