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July 30, 1932


Author Affiliations


From the Department of Medicine, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University and the Presbyterian Hospital.

JAMA. 1932;99(5):355-356. doi:10.1001/jama.1932.02740570001001

On the physician have been placed various burdens of responsibility. As a disciple of Aesculapius, his chief function is to minister to those who are ill. In addition, it is expected of him that he shall investigate disease, devise methods for its prevention and treatment, and that he shall teach to a new generation the current knowledge of his subject. In its broadest sense, then, medicine embraces many fields of activity.

Savage man regarded disease as due to the work of evil spirits, and the art of healing was in the hands of the medicine man, who functioned as priest and sorcerer by virtue of particular powers attributed to him. Experience soon developed special talents in herb-doctoring, bone-setting and crude surgical procedures in certain persons, who employed their abilities as a means of livelihood. Observation of cause and effect, casual at first, but later purposive, built up a gradually growing

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