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Books, Journals, New Media
July 20, 2005

Multiple Sclerosis History

Author Affiliations

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 Campus, Virginia Commonwealth University.

JAMA. 2005;294(3):374-378. doi:10.1001/jama.294.3.376-b

After reading Multiple Sclerosis: The History of a Disease, I realized as never before that the history of medicine should be compulsory in any undergraduate medical curriculum. During 20 years of caring for patients on a general internal medicine ward, I have typically had no major problems in making common diagnoses. But such diagnostic accuracy is not possible without the efforts of those who have defined and named specific disorders. As author T. Jock Murray, MD, professor of medical humanities at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, points out, “[it] should be emphasized that the defining and naming of a disease have many consequences in the lives of those suffering those symptoms. It also can alter public policy, how the health caresystem responds to them, and how they are regarded by others, including their friends and family.” Indeed, a disease might seem to come into existence and be accepted only upon being named.

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