History & Sociology of Medicine

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History & Sociology of Medicine

By | October 2012
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History and Sociology of Medicine
In the last century alone, health sciences have undergone such a radical metamorphosis that a medical practitioner from 1909 would have difficulty recognizing many of the medical practices, considered routine today. However, the fact remains that many modern day medical practices are rooted in the concepts, theories and discoveries made by ancient civilizations and early scholars – we have just applied sterility and modern technology to them. Of these, three of the most influential are the Anatomical Concept of Disease, the Humoral Theory of Disease and the Germ Theory of Disease. The Anatomical Concept of Disease arose from the works of Dr. Giovanni Battista Morgagni (1682-1771) often referred to as the “father” of pathological anatomy. Morgagni’s theory was based on the concept that disease was not an entire body issue but attributable to one or more body organs. He meticulously documented his finding in his published book The Seats and Causes of Disease Investigated by Anatomy. Morgagni’s findings indicated a new way to discover disturbances in individual organs by using pathology (the science or study of the origin, nature and cycle of disease), to delve deeper into the study of diseases associated with individual organs. His studies created viable cause and effect links between external patient symptoms and diseased internal organs. According to Bullock (1992, pp 7), the Humoral Theory of Disease “was the dominant concept among medical scholars and practitioners of the ancient world and it was still a major explanation of disease in the western world in the eighteenth century.” Bullock (1992, pp 7) also states this theory was based on the premise that “there were not different diseases but, rather, diverse imbalances in the sick individual.” The primary factors considered were four basic substances or humors: Blood, Phlegm, Yellow Bile, and Black Bile, which were in turn associated with major organs in the body - the...

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