Books, Journals, New Media Section Editor:
Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA;
Journal Review Editor: Brenda L. Seago, MLS, MA, Medical College of Virginia,
Virginia Commonwealth University.
Nortin Hadler, MD, is a philosopher as well as a consummate physician.
His books shatter preconceived ideas and are often iconoclastic. But like
a veteran umpire, he calls ‘em as he sees them. Much of what modern
medicine advocates bears scrutiny, and Hadler examines it critically and marshals
facts to support his views. The Last Well Person,
written for the patient, or the person who thinks of becoming one, is must
reading for the public and for physicians.
Many years ago at Cornell Medical College, I taught an elective honors
course entitled “The Humours,” dealing with procedures and concepts
that had been relegated to the proverbial dustbin. The concept of phlegmatic,
sanguine, choleric, and melancholic humours, thought to course through the
system and, where concentrated, create disease, had therapeutic consequences
such as bleeding and purging and isolation in noisome wards for mental derangements.
Most archaic treatments have disappeared, but they have been supplanted by
others that may, in future retrospect, seem no more supportable. This book
reminds me of that course, as Hadler applies Occam’s razor to today’s
shibboleths and raises pertinent questions that most of us do not ask.
Ehrlich GE. Health. JAMA. 2004;292(24):3032-3038. doi:10.1001/jama.292.24.3035