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C h a p t e r F o u r Science from the Margins? Naturheilkunde from Outsider Medicine to the University of Berlin, 1889–1920 As we saw in chapter 3, the relationship between academic medicine and the natural healing movement deteriorated rapidly in the period between 1890 and 1914, with questions of professional authority ,personal choice,and public safety all contributing to friction between the two camps.1 Professional competition over scarce resources was one important reason: as medical schools turned out more trained doctors, and as ever greater numbers of laymen joined the medical marketplace , the job of securing one’s livelihood was becoming increasingly difficult for medical men. It was understandable for licensed doctors to want to exclude lay healers from the medical marketplace, but why should trained doctors continue to reject the natural therapies that had proven so effective in practice?2 Writing in the inaugural issue of Nature ’s Doctor, the schoolteacher-turned-natural healer Hermann Canitz offered an explanation.3 Canitz claimed that university-trained doctors were hostile to lay healers not just because they hoped to monopolize the medical marketplace .4 Doctors actually believed that lay healers were quacks and charlatans . During their years in training, doctors were taught to believe that progress in medicine resulted not from the unsystematic work of laymen, but from the concerted efforts of specialists and experts. These young men were initiates into a profession whose disciplinary structures “made it nearly impossible to view natural healing with an objective, • • 94 we lived for the body unclouded eye.”5 For young medical men, it became “second nature” to treat internal illnesses with medications and to think about disease more in terms of the symptoms than the sick patient: this, according to Canitz, is what they had been trained to do.6 As medical students internalized the norms of their profession, as they bent to the pressure of established hierarchies, these students submitted to the authority of medical textbooks and inherited dogma and turned away from what they saw with their own eyes: nonlicensed healers delivering effective care on the open market.7 Tensions between medical men and lay healers were, in the view of Canitz and others, more cultural artifact than evidence of base economic motivations. But the fact that doctors were not acting purely out of self-interest did little to improve the lives of lay healers who were under attack from medical associations. When, for example, the medical man Dr. Wolff testified against Canitz in a trial for medical malpractice, he argued that because natural healers like Canitz rejected many of the findings of the latest medical science, an acquittal of the natural healer amounted to an indictment of medical science. He warned the court that if Canitz went unpunished, universities “might as well simply close the lecture halls.”8 In 1889, when Canitz wrote, medical men assumed that the very fact of being a natural healer meant that one rejected scientifically tested theories, that one challenged established social hierarchies, and that one practiced therapies that were at best useless, and at worst dangerous.9 Even 20 years later, the contours of the debate appeared unchanged. Doctors’ associations continued to trade insults with natural healing associations, and the professional stakes had, if anything, grown. If one looks more closely, though, the transformation of the situation was dramatic. This chapter charts the changing status of Naturheilkunde from 1889 to 1920. When Canitz wrote his piece in 1889, medical lobbies and doctors’ associations were still pushing the view that all natural healers were quacks and all natural healing quackery. They conflated the practices with the practitioners. By 1920 it had become increasingly common for university-trained doctors to use natural therapies in their daily practices. A change in attitude in the medical establishment had clearly taken place, but it does not follow that the medical lobby had Science from the Margins? 95 changed its attitude toward lay healers,who were the primary practitioners of Naturheilkunde. In the view of the medical associations, the lay healers themselves were all quacks. This chapter is about another of those ways that Naturheilkunde remained a vital part of the German medical landscape. In chapter 2, we saw the role new consumer cultures and publicity networks played in popularizing natural therapies. Chapter 3 explored the unexpected alliances that formed to defend the free medical marketplace, highlighting the range of political, legal, and scientific arguments that were at play when debating who would be...


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MARC Record
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