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Medicine and Health > History of Medicine

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Mechanism, Experiment, Disease Cover

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Mechanism, Experiment, Disease

Marcello Malpighi and Seventeenth-Century Anatomy

Domenico Bertoloni Meli

A leading early modern anatomist and physician, Marcello Malpighi often compared himself to that period’s other great mind—Galileo. Domenico Bertoloni Meli here explores Malpighi’s work and places it in the context of seventeenth-century intellectual life. Malpighi’s interests were wide and varied. As a professor at the University of Bologna, he confirmed William Harvey’s theory of the circulation of blood; published groundbreaking studies of human organs; made important discoveries about the anatomy of silkworms; and examined the properties of plants. He sought to apply his findings to medical practice. By analyzing Malpighi’s work, the author provides novel perspectives not only on the history of anatomy but also on the histories of science, philosophy, and medicine. Through the lens of Malpighi and his work, Bertoloni Meli investigates a range of important themes, from sense perception to the meaning of Galenism in the seventeenth century. Bertoloni Meli contends that to study science and medicine in the seventeenth century one needs to understand how scholars and ideas crossed disciplinary boundaries. He examines Malpighi’s work within this context, describing how anatomical knowledge was achieved and transmitted and how those processes interacted with the experimental and mechanical philosophies, natural history, and medical practice. Malpighi was central in all of these developments, and his work helped redefine the intellectual horizon of the time. Bertoloni Meli’s critical study of this key figure and the works of his contemporaries—including Borelli, Swammerdam, Redi, and Ruysch—opens a wonderful window onto the scientific and medical worlds of the seventeenth century.

Medical America in the Nineteenth Century Cover

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Medical America in the Nineteenth Century

Readings from the Literature

edited by Gert H. Brieger

Students of the history of medicine and of American history in general will welcome this collection of thirty papers originally published in nineteenth-century medical journals and lay publications. Each highlights a specific problem or medical attitude of the period, and together they present an illuminating panorama of the medical profession and of public health in nineteenth-century America. Many of the problems faced by students, practitioners, and patients of the last century are surprisingly similar to those still being encountered today. Dr. Brieger has selected papers that illustrate the issues and developments in medical education, medical practice, surgery, hospitals, hygiene, and psychiatry. They range from Benjamin Rush's "On the Cause of Death in Diseases That Are Not Incurable," to a paper by Robert F. Weir "On the Antiseptic Treatment of Wounds, and Its Results" and an article by Stephen Smith, "New York the Unclean." The final selection, the Announcement of The Johns Hopkins Medical School, stands as a landmark that foretells the beginning of a new era.

Medical Progress and Social Reality Cover

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Medical Progress and Social Reality

A Reader in Nineteenth-Century Medicine and Literature

An anthology of nineteenth-century literature about medicine and medical issues. Medical Progress and Social Reality is an anthology of nineteenth-century literature on medicine and medical practice. Situated at the interdisciplinary juncture of medicine, history, and literature, it includes mostly fictional but also some nonfictional works by British, French, American, and Russian writers that describe the day-to-day social realities of medicine during a period of momentous change. Issues addressed in these works include the hierarchy in the profession, the use of new instruments such as the stethoscope, the advent of women doctors, the function of the hospital, and the shifting balance of power between physicians and patients. The volume provides an introductory overview of the most important aspects of medical progress in the nineteenth century, and it includes an annotated bibliography of further readings in medical history and literature. Selections from Anthony Trollope, George Eliot, Gustave Flaubert, Sarah Orne Jewett, Sinclair Lewis, Mikhail Bulgakov, and others are included, as well as the American Medical Association’s 1847 Code of Ethics.

Medicine and Health Care in Early Christianity Cover

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Medicine and Health Care in Early Christianity

Gary B. Ferngren

Drawing on New Testament studies and recent scholarship on the expansion of the Christian church, Gary B. Ferngren presents a comprehensive historical account of medicine and medical philanthropy in the first five centuries of the Christian era. Ferngren first describes how early Christians understood disease. He examines the relationship of early Christian medicine to the natural and supernatural modes of healing found in the Bible. Despite biblical accounts of demonic possession and miraculous healing, Ferngren argues that early Christians generally accepted naturalistic assumptions about disease and cared for the sick with medical knowledge gleaned from the Greeks and Romans. Ferngren next explores the origins of medical philanthropy in the early Christian church. Rather than viewing illness as punishment for sins, early Christians believed that the sick deserved both medical assistance and compassion. Even as they were being persecuted, Christians cared for the sick both within and outside of their community. Their long experience in medical charity led to the creation of the first hospitals, a singular Christian contribution to health care. Medicine and Health Care in Early Christianity is essential reading for scholars and students in the history of medicine and religious studies.

Medicine and Politics in Colonial Peru Cover

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Medicine and Politics in Colonial Peru

Population Growth and the Bourbon Reforms

Adam Warren

By the eighteenth century, Peru had witnessed the decline of its silver industry and massive population losses due to smallpox and other diseases. It was widely believed toward the century’s end that economic salvation was contingent upon increasing the labor force and maintaining as many healthy workers as possible. In Medicine and Politics in Colonial Peru, Adam Warren presents a groundbreaking study of the primacy placed on medical care to generate population growth during this period. The Bourbon reforms of the eighteenth century shaped many of the political, economic, and social interests of Spain and its colonies. In Peru, local elites saw the reforms as an opportunity to positively transform society and its conceptions of medicine and medical institutions. Creole physicians, in particular, took advantage of Bourbon reforms to wrest control of medical treatment away from the Catholic Church, establish their own medical expertise, and create a new, secular medical culture. But during the early years of independence, the doctors lost much of their influence, and medical reforms ground to a halt. As Warren’s study reveals, despite falling in and out of political favor, Bourbon reforms and creole physicians were instrumental to the founding of modern medicine in Peru.

Medicine and the Saints Cover

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Medicine and the Saints

Science, Islam, and the Colonial Encounter in Morocco, 1877-1956

By Ellen J. Amster

Exploring the colonial encounter between France and Morocco as a process of embodiment, and the Muslim body as the place of resistance to the state, this book provides the first history of medicine, health, disease, and the welfare state in Morocco.

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Moments of Truth in Genetic Medicine

M. Susan Lindee

Genetic research increasingly dominates medical thought and practice in the United States and in many other industrialized nations. Susan Lindee's original study explores the institutions, disciplines, and ideas that initiated the reconfiguration of genetic medicine from a marginal field in the mid-1950s to a core research frontier of biomedicine. Tracing the work of geneticists and other experts in identifying and classifying disease during the explosive period between 1950 and 1980, Lindee identifies the individual "moments of truth" that moved the field away from its eugenic past to the center of a new world view in which nearly all disease is understood to be fundamentally genetic. She suggests that these moments of truth were experienced not only by scientists but also by those who had familial, intimate, emotional knowledge of hereditary disease: patients, family members, and research subjects. Focusing on benchmarks in the field—such as the rise of neonatal testing in the 1960s, genetic studies of unique human populations such as the Amish, the development of human cytogenetics and human behavioral genetics, and the efforts to find genes for rare diseases such as familial dysautonomia—she tracks the emergence of a biomedical consensus that nearly all disease is genetic disease. Using the success of this field as a point of entry, Lindee chronicles both the production of knowledge in biomedicine and changes in the cultural meaning of the body in the late twentieth century. She suggests that scientific knowledge is a community project that is shaped directly by people in many different social and professional locations. The power to experience and report scientific truth may be much more dispersed than it sometimes appears, because people know things about their own bodies, and their knowledge has often been incorporated into the technical infrastructure of genomic medicine. Lindee's pathbreaking study shows the interdependence of technical and social parameters in contemporary biomedicine.

More Than Hot Cover

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More Than Hot

A Short History of Fever

Christopher Hamlin

Christopher Hamlin’s magisterial work engages a common experience—fever—in all its varieties and meanings. Reviewing the representations of that condition from ancient times to the present, More Than Hot is a history of the world through the lens of fever. The book deals with the expression of fever, with the efforts of medical scientists to classify it, and with fever’s changing social, cultural, and political significance. Long before there were thermometers to measure it, people recognized fever as a dangerous if transitory state of being. It was the most familiar form of alienation from the normal self, a concern to communities and states as well as to victims, families, and healers. The earliest medical writers struggled for a conceptual vocabulary to explain fever. During the Enlightenment, the idea of fever became a means to acknowledge the biological experiences that united humans. A century later, in the age of imperialism, it would become a key element of conquest, both an important way of differentiating places and races, and of imposing global expectations of health. Ultimately the concept would split: "fevers" were dangerous and often exotic epidemic diseases, while “fever” remained a curious physiological state, certainly distressing but usually benign. By the end of the twentieth century, that divergence divided the world between a global south profoundly affected by fevers—chiefly malaria—and a north where fever, now merely a symptom, was so medically trivial as to be transformed into a familiar motif of popular culture. A senior historian of science and medicine, Hamlin shares stories from individuals—some eminent, many forgotten—who exemplify aspects of fever: reflections of the fevered, for whom fevers, and especially the vivid hallucinations of delirium, were sometimes transformative; of those who cared for them (nurses and, often, mothers); and of those who sought to explain deadly epidemic outbreaks. Significant also are the arguments of the reformers, for whom fever stood as a proxy for manifold forms of injustice. Broad in scope and sweep, Hamlin’s study is a reflection of how the meanings of diseases continue to shift, affecting not only the identities we create but often also our ability to survive.

The Morehouse Mystique Cover

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The Morehouse Mystique

Becoming a Doctor at the Nation's Newest African American Medical School

Marybeth Gasman with Louis W. Sullivan

The Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia, is one of only four predominantly black medical schools in the United States. Among its illustrious alumni are surgeons general of the United States, medical school presidents, and highly regarded medical professionals. This books tells the engrossing history of this venerable institution. The school was founded just after the civil rights era, when major barriers prevented minorities from receiving adequate health care and black students were underrepresented in predominantly white medical schools. The Morehouse School of Medicine was conceived to address both problems—it was a minority-serving institution educating doctors who would practice in underserved communities. The school's history involves political maneuvering, skilled leadership, dedication to training African American physicians, and a mission of primary care in disadvantaged communities. Highlighting such influential leaders as former Health and Human Services Secretary Louis W. Sullivan, The Morehouse Mystique situates the school in the context of the history of medical education for blacks and race relations throughout the country. The book features excerpts from personal interviews with prominent African American doctors as well as with former presidents Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush, who reveal how local, state, and national politics shaped the development of black medical schools in the United States. The story of the Morehouse School of Medicine reflects the turbulent time in which it was founded and the lofty goals and accomplishments of a diverse group of African American leaders. Their tireless efforts in creating this eminent black institution changed the landscape of medical education and the racial and ethnic makeup of physicians and health care professions.

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