History of Medicine
A Scandously Short IntroductionBook - 1999
Jacalyn Duffin's History of Medicine provides a brief survey of the history of Western medicine with reference to recent scholarly literature and current issues in health care. Organized conceptually around the major fields of medical endeavour - anatomy, physiology, pathology, pharmacology, surgery, obstetrics, psychiatry, pediatrics, and family medicine - this book is an accessible overview of medical history as a vibrant component of social, intellectual, and cultural history, and as a research discipline in its own right.
Each chapter begins in antiquity and ends in the twentieth century. Throughout, Duffin shows that alternative interpretations can be found for most elements of our past and that topics of interest can go well beyond 'great men' and 'great discoveries' to include ideas, diseases, patients, institutions, and great mistakes. This approach does not mean that the 'great men' (and women) are neglected; rather they appear in context. Medical disasters such as chloramphenicol and thalidomide, are covered along with the triumphs, and examples from Canada's past, largely ignored in other medical histories, are included. A chapter on methodology, suggestions for further reading with special attention to Canadian sources, and a careful index make it possible to research a specific event or historical debate, or to satisfy a more general curiosity.
By presenting the material in a structure that resonates with the broad outlines of medical training, and by focusing on the questions asked most often, this text is a relevant guide for students to the history of the profession they are about to embrace, and for those who would teach them, be they physicians or historians. Duffin's clear and entertaining prose and the many illustrations will help to demystify medicine for general readers and for students in other domains, such as history, philosophy, and sociology.