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JAMA Revisited
December 18, 2018

The Historical Background of Resort Therapy: Howard W. Haggard, M.D.

JAMA. 2018;320(23):2488. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.12712

Originally Published December 18, 1943 | JAMA. 1943;123(16):1037- 1042.

Few branches of healing are more ancient than the branch of resort therapy and none, with the possible exception of surgery, has been more influenced in its display by the regard in which it has been held by the physician. Unfortunately, these views have often had little or no relation to the actual benefits of the therapy but they have nevertheless largely determined the extent to which it has been employed. Much of the discussion to follow on the historical background of resort therapy will be concerned with the forces which at different periods have raised this therapy to the central feature of medical care, have reduced it to the status of a superstition, have diverted its main features into voluptuous cultural practices, have opposed its use on the puritanical background that its measures coddled the flesh that needed scourging for the sins of disease, have degraded it to a social fad, have allowed it to pass into the hands of the charlatan and enthusiast as a panacea, have obstructed it with lack of economic provision for care and have brushed it aside with a disinterest that has come from attention fixed on only the novel in medicine. Few branches of therapy have ever suffered more, particularly in this country, from entanglements which had no relation to actual merits. Resort therapy can achieve its valid place in American medicine only when it is evaluated, not in the light of preconceived views arising from these entanglements, but solely on its basic merits.

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