Franklin Leyva Jimenez
As human beings we’ve come along way from the ancient world, we have undergone a drastic change in the ways we live and go about our daily lives due to our technological advances. But the issue of medicine has not really improved in the way we treat, cure and understand certain diseases and how easily they target us. Even with everything we know about disease we still have some like cancer which we cant seem to permanently fight off and because of that we see that medicine then and now really seen enough of a change for us to fully eliminate disease and epidemics from spreading and further harming us.
First, in modern medicine our ideas on how we base our understanding of disease as our body being invaded by certain pathogens and all we do is prescribe certain drugs that can either eliminate or temporarily subdue the effects of the disease/illness. Because we are so heavily relied on drugs we are forced to experiment with what we have to try to combat the diseases we do not understand. For example, in the film Awakenings we see that Dr. Malcolm Sayer tries to help out some catatonic patients who have a disease that they cant seem to understand the cause but he is determined to try to do something for the people by giving them a drug that he doesn’t know what it will do to them but tries it out anyway “ I don’t know what it will do to him, if anything” Marshall. “Awakenings”, Columbia picture corporation, 1990”. In the film the disease was not understood and was temporarily treated but not cured and allows us to see how our western medical system runs not for many other similar diseases. In ancient Greece the idea of disease causation differs that of modern ways because Hippocrates, a Greek physician, based the belief of medicine on nature and the earth itself he came up with the Humural theory which was constructed of some aspects of life for example, physical imbalance, temperament, disease, lifespan, work, and lastly the ability to have family. He wrote On Airs, Water, and Places in which he explains how disease is an internal imbalance of the body, which is caused by external factors such as the seasons of the year. In the text Hippocrates states “ These are the diseases which attack them in the summer; but in winter younger persons are liable to pneumonia”(Francis Adams, translator PT 7) and with this he expresses his idea of how environmental changes affects disease construction. In the ancient world the role of physicians and patients differed that of how we view them now for example ancient Egypt’s physicians were actually their priests and were highly valued. They were believed to be able to cure anything with certain medicine and prayer and in order for the patient to get better his best option would have been to go to the person closest to that divinity (Kavey, 8/28,2014). In modern medicine we don’t really have that connection between physician and “God” but there are some who believe that there is some divine intervention that occurs when it’s needed.
Modern western medicine has flaws about how we handle what we don’t understand such as how to cure diseases like cancer and HIV. We understand what it is and what it does but the cure for it is still not there all that we have to combat it is chemotherapy. We see an example of this in the film Wit which shows the story of Vivian, an ovarian cancer patient which undergoes several treatments but realizes that they are causing her more harm than good with the following quote from the film“ I am not in isolation because I have cancer, because I have a tumor the size of a grapefruit, no I am in isolation because I am being treated for cancer ” Nichols "Wit," HBO, 2001. What we have to fight these types of cancers are just experimental radiation treatments that may or may not work. Some beliefs of ancient Egyptian medicine included the ability to accurately diagnose and surgically operate on...
Cited: Hippocratics, "On Airs Waters, Places," Francis Adams (Translator), MIT internet classics
Prachi Garodia et al, "From Ancient Medicine to Modern Medicine: Ayurvedic Concepts of
Health and their Role in Inflammation and Cancer," Journal for the Society of Integrative Oncology vol 5 no. 1 (winter, 1990), p. 1-15.
Edwin Smith Papyrus, http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/timelines/topics/smithpapyrus.htm
Penny Marshall (Director) "Awakenings," Columbia Pictures, 1990.
Mike Nichols (Director) "Wit," HBO, 2001
Kavey topics in History of Science, Technology & Medicine History 131, Fall 2014 John Jay College 8/28/2014
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