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Medicine and Health > History of Medicine

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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.

Malaria Cover

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Malaria

Poverty, Race, and Public Health in the United States

Margaret Humphreys

In Malaria: Poverty, Race, and Public Health in the United States, Margaret Humphreys presents the first book-length account of the parasitic, insect-borne disease that has infected millions and influenced settlement patterns, economic development, and the quality of life at every level of American society, especially in the south. Humphreys approaches malaria from three perspectives: the parasite's biological history, the medical response to it, and the patient's experience of the disease. It addresses numerous questions including how the parasite thrives and eventually becomes vulnerable, how professionals came to know about the parasite and learned how to fight them, and how people view the disease and came to the point where they could understand and support the struggle against it. In addition Malaria: Poverty, Race, and Public Health in the United States argues that malaria control was central to the evolution of local and federal intervention in public health, and demonstrates the complex interaction between poverty, race, and geography in determining the fate of malaria.

Manic Minds Cover

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Manic Minds

Mania's Mad History and Its Neuro-Future

Lisa M Hermsen

From its first depictions in ancient medical literature to contemporary depictions in brain imaging, mania has been largely associated with its Greek roots, "to rage." Prior to the nineteenth century, "mania" was used interchangeably with "madness." Although its meanings shifted over time, the word remained layered with the type of madness first-century writers described: rage, fury, frenzy. Even now, the mental illness we know as bipolar disorder describes conditions of extreme irritability, inflated grandiosity, and excessive impulsivity.

Spanning several centuries, Manic Minds traces the multiple ways in which the word "mania" has been used by popular, medical, and academic writers. It reveals why the rhetorical history of the word is key to appreciating descriptions and meanings of the "manic" episode." Lisa M. Hermsen examines the way medical professionals analyzed the manic condition during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and offers the first in-depth analysis of contemporary manic autobiographies: bipolar figures who have written from within the illness itself.

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Mapping the Victorian Social Body

The cholera epidemics that plagued London in the nineteenth century were a turning point in the science of epidemiology and public health, and the use of maps to pinpoint the source of the disease initiated an explosion of medical and social mapping not only in London but throughout the British Empire as well. Mapping the Victorian Social Body explores the impact of such maps on Victorian and, ultimately, present-day perceptions of space. Tracing the development of cholera mapping from the early sanitary period to the later “medical” period of which John Snow’s work was a key example, the book explores how maps of cholera outbreaks, residents’ responses to those maps, and the novels of Charles Dickens, who drew heavily on this material, contributed to an emerging vision of London as a metropolis. The book then turns to India, the metropole’s colonial other and the perceived source of the disease. In India, the book argues, imperial politics took cholera mapping in a wholly different direction and contributed to Britons’ perceptions of Indian space as quite different from that of home. The book concludes by tracing the persistence of Victorian themes in current discourse, particularly in terms of the identification of large cities with cancerous growth and of Africa with AIDS.

Marrow of Tragedy Cover

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Marrow of Tragedy

The Health Crisis of the American Civil War

Margaret Humphreys

The Civil War was the greatest health disaster the United States has ever experienced, killing more than a million Americans and leaving many others invalided or grieving. Poorly prepared to care for wounded and sick soldiers as the war began, Union and Confederate governments scrambled to provide doctoring and nursing, supplies, and shelter for those felled by warfare or disease. During the war soldiers suffered from measles, dysentery, and pneumonia and needed both preventive and curative food and medicine. Family members—especially women—and governments mounted organized support efforts, while army doctors learned to standardize medical thought and practice. Resources in the north helped return soldiers to battle, while Confederate soldiers suffered hunger and other privations and healed more slowly, when they healed at all. In telling the stories of soldiers, families, physicians, nurses, and administrators, historian Margaret Humphreys concludes that medical science was not as limited at the beginning of the war as has been portrayed. Medicine and public health clearly advanced during the war—and continued to do so after military hostilities ceased.

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