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Investigating the Supernatural Cover

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Investigating the Supernatural

From Spiritism and Occultism to Psychical Research and Metapsychics in France, 1853–1931

Sofie Lachapelle

Séances were wildly popular in France between 1850 and 1930, when members of the general public and scholars alike turned to the wondrous as a means of understanding and explaining the world. Sofie Lachapelle explores how five distinct groups attempted to use and legitimize séances: spiritists, who tried to create a new “science” concerned with the spiritual realm and the afterlife; occultists, who hoped to connect ancient revelations with contemporary science; physicians, psychiatrists, and psychologists, who developed a pathology of supernatural experiences; psychical researchers, who drew on the unexplained experiences of the public to create a new field of research; and metapsychists, who attempted to develop a new science of yet-to-be understood natural forces. Lachapelle examines the practices, aims, and level of success of these five disciplines, paying special attention to how they interacted with each other and with the world of mainstream science. Their practitioners regarded mystical phenomena worthy of serious study; most devotees—with notable exceptions of physicians, psychiatrists, and psychologists—also meant to challenge conventional science in general and French science in particular. Through these stories, Lachapelle illuminates the lively relationship between science and the supernatural in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century France and relates why this relationship ultimately led to the marginalization of psychical research and metapsychics. An enlightening and entertaining narrative that includes colorful people like "Allan Kardec"—a pseudonymous former mathematics teacher from Lyon who wrote successful works on the science of the séance and what happened after death—Investigating the Supernatural reveals the rich and vibrant diversity of unorthodox beliefs and practices that existed at the borders of the French scientific culture in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

John P. McGovern, MD Cover

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John P. McGovern, MD

A Lifetime of Stories

Bryant Boutwell

John P. McGovern held seventeen professorships, received twenty-nine honorary doctorates, and established the nation’s largest privately owned allergy and immunology clinic. He authored 252 professional publications including twenty-six books in the medical sciences and humanities, and served as president or chief elected officer of fifteen professional societies in medicine. In addition, the McGovern Foundation has given millions of dollars to various local and national health charities, and many Houston landmarks bear the McGovern name, including the McGovern Lake and McGovern Children’s Zoo (at Houston’s Hermann Park), the McGovern Health and Science Museum, and the McGovern Campus of the Texas Medical Center.

Bryant Boutwell, a long-time friend and colleague, has captured the influential life of this visionary Texas physician in John P. McGovern, MD: A Lifetime of Stories. In captivating narrative, interlaced with revealing personal and family stories, Boutwell chronicles McGovern’s holistic approach to medicine, which transcended the traditional boundaries of institutional identities and medical specialties. McGovern worked tirelessly to bring together big institutions, the health professions, bold interdisciplinary ideas, and a team approach to healthcare that, though prescient at the time, is recognized today as imperative. This commitment led to his founding role in the American Osler Society, which promotes humanistic and ethical dimensions of the practice of medicine, and his establishment of humanities programs at the UT Health Science Center at Houston and the UT Medical Branch at Galveston.

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Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences

Vol. 55 (2000) through current issue

The journal covers a broad range of topics in medical history and related subjects. While recognizing the value of medical history as historically conceptualized, JHMAS also aims to publish papers that cross disciplines, traditional international boundaries, and historiographic categories.

Killer Fat Cover

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Killer Fat

Media, Medicine, and Morals in the American "Obesity Epidemic”

Natalie Boero

In the past decade, obesity has emerged as a major public health concern in the United States and abroad. At the federal, state, and local level, policy makers have begun drafting a range of policies to fight a war against fat, including body-mass index (BMI) report cards, “snack taxes,” and laws to control how fast food companies market to children. As an epidemic, obesity threatens to weaken the health, economy, and might of the most powerful nation in the world. In Killer Fat, Natalie Boero examines how and why obesity emerged as a major public health concern and national obsession in recent years. Using primary sources and in-depth interviews, Boero enters the world of bariatric surgeries, Weight Watchers, and Overeaters Anonymous to show how common expectations of what bodies are supposed to look like help to determine what sorts of interventions and policies are considered urgent in containing this new kind of disease. Boero argues that obesity, like the traditional epidemics of biological contagion and mass death, now incites panic, a doomsday scenario that must be confronted in a struggle for social stability. The “war” on obesity, she concludes, is a form of social control. Killer Fat ultimately offers an alternate framing of the nation’s obesity problem based on the insights of the “Health at Every Size” movement.

Leprosy in Premodern Medicine Cover

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Leprosy in Premodern Medicine

A Malady of the Whole Body

Luke Demaitre

While premodern poets and preachers viewed leprosy as a “disease of the soul,” physicians in the period understood it to be a “cancer of the whole body.” In this innovative study, medical historian Luke Demaitre explores medical and social perspectives on leprosy at a time when judicious diagnosis could spare healthy people from social ostracization and help the afflicted get a license to beg. Extending his inquiry from the first century to late in the eighteenth century, Demaitre draws on translations of academic treatises and archival records to illuminate the professional standing, knowledge, and conduct of the practitioners who struggled to move popular perceptions of leprosy beyond loathing and pity. He finds that, while not immune to social and cultural perceptions of the leprous as degenerate, and while influenced by their own fears of contagion, premodern physicians moderated society's reactions to leprosy and were dedicated to the well-being of their patients.

L’incontournable caste des femmes Cover

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L’incontournable caste des femmes

histoire des services de santé au Québec et au Canada

Marie-Claude Thifault

Sages-femmes, religieuses, sœurs hospitalières, bénévoles, infirmières de la Croix-Rouge, de colonie, militaires, en psychiatrie, assistantes sociales et professionnelles de la santé sont ici sujets de l’histoire dans le large champ des services de santé au Québec et au Canada. Plus qu’un sujet, il est ici question d’une extraordinaire caste. Soucieux de fermer le fossé linguistique qui divisa non seulement la pratique, mais aussi l’historiographie de la médecine au Canada et au Québec, l’ouvrage collige des recherches récentes dans le champ historique de la santé réalisées par des historiennes et des historiens francophones et anglophones.

Une invitation à découvrir sur plus d’un siècle la place prédominante de plusieurs générations de femmes qui ont participé activement au développement du système de santé au Québec et au Canada.   

Locating Medical History Cover

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Locating Medical History

The Stories and Their Meanings

edited by Frank Huisman and John Harley Warner

The issues constituting the history of medicine are consequential: how societies organize health care, how individuals or states relate to sickness, how we understand our own identity and agency as sufferers or healers. In Locating Medical History: The Stories and Their Meanings, Frank Huisman, John Harley Warner, and other eminent historians explore and reflect on a field that accommodates a remarkable diversity of practitioners and approaches. At a time when medical history is facing profound choices about its future, these scholars explore the discipline in the distant and recent past in order to rethink its missions and methods today. They discuss such issues as the periodic estrangement of medical history from medicine, the influence of Foucault on the writing of medical history, and the shifts from social to cultural history and back again. Chapters explore the early history of the field, its transformations since the 1970s, and its prospects for the future. With diverse constituencies, a multiplicity of approaches, styles, and aims is both expected and desired. This volume locates medical history within itself and within larger historiographic trends, to provide a springboard for discussions about what the history of medicine should be, and what aims it should serve. Contributors: Olga Amsterdamska, University of Amsterdam; Warwick Anderson, University of Wisconsin, Madison; Allan M. Brandt, Harvard Medical School; Theodore M. Brown, University of Rochester; Roger Cooter, University College London; Martin Dinges, Institut f

Machines in Our Hearts Cover

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Machines in Our Hearts

The Cardiac Pacemaker, the Implantable Defibrillator, and American Health Care

Kirk Jeffrey

Today hundreds of thousands of Americans carry pacemakers and implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) within their bodies. These battery-powered machines—small computers, in fact—deliver electricity to the heart to correct dangerous disorders of the heartbeat. But few doctors, patients, or scholars know the history of these devices or how "heart-rhythm management" evolved into a multi-billion-dollar manufacturing and service industry. Machines in Our Hearts tells the story of these two implantable medical devices. Kirk Jeffrey, a historian of science and technology, traces the development of knowledge about the human heartbeat and follows surgeons, cardiologists, and engineers as they invent and test a variety of electronic devices. Numerous small manufacturing firms jumped into pacemaker production but eventually fell by the wayside, leaving only three American companies in the business today. Jeffrey profiles pioneering heart surgeons, inventors from the realms of engineering and medical research, and business leaders who built heart-rhythm management into an industry with thousands of employees and annual revenues in the hundreds of millions. As Jeffrey shows, the pacemaker (first implanted in 1958) and the ICD (1980) embody a paradox of high-tech health care: these technologies are effective and reliable but add billions to the nation's medical bill because of the huge growth in the number of patients who depend on implanted devices to manage their heartbeats.

Make Room for Daddy Cover

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Make Room for Daddy

The Journey from Waiting Room to Birthing Room

Judith Walzer Leavitt

Leavitt uses fathers' first-hand accounts from letters, journals, and personal interviews along with hospital records and medical literature to offer a new perspective on the changing role of expectant fathers from the 1940s to the 1980s. She shows how, as men moved first from the hospital waiting room to the labor room in the 1960s, and then on to the delivery and birthing rooms in the 1970s and 1980s, they became progressively more involved in the birth experience and their influence over events expanded. With careful attention to power and privilege, Leavitt charts not only the increasing involvement of fathers, but also medical inequalities, the impact of race and class, and the evolution of hospital policies.

Making Americans Healthier Cover

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Making Americans Healthier

Social and Economic Policy as Health Policy

The United States spends billions of dollars annually on social and economic policies aimed at improving the lives of its citizens, but the health consequences associated with these policies are rarely considered. In Making Americans Healthier, a group of multidisciplinary experts shows how social and economic policies seemingly unrelated to medical well-being have dramatic consequences for the health of the American people. Most previous research concerning problems with health and healthcare in the United States has focused narrowly on issues of medical care and insurance coverage, but Making Americans Healthier demonstrates the important health consequences that policymakers overlook in traditional cost-benefit evaluations of social policy. The contributors examine six critical policy areas: civil rights, education, income support, employment, welfare, and neighborhood and housing. Among the important findings in this book, David Cutler and Adriana Lleras-Muney document the robust relationship between educational attainment and health, and estimate that the health benefits of education may exceed even the well-documented financial returns of education. Pamela Herd, James House, and Robert Schoeni discover notable health benefits associated with the Supplemental Security Income Program, which provides financial support for elderly and disabled Americans. George Kaplan, Nalini Ranjit, and Sarah Burgard document a large and unanticipated improvement in the health of African-American women following the enactment of civil rights legislation in the 1960s. Making Americans Healthier presents ground-breaking evidence that the health impact of many social policies is substantial. The important findings in this book pave the way for promising new avenues for intervention and convincingly demonstrate that ultimately social and economic policy is health policy.

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