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May 17, 1971

Humanitarian Medicine

JAMA. 1971;216(7):1194. doi:10.1001/jama.1971.03180330068017

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Herbert Spencer, who flourished in Victorian days, and whose philosophical system embraced everything within science, biology, morality, and religion, remarked once of nature, "... how careful of the type she seems, how careless of the single life."

It has been the characteristic of medicine to be careful of the single life, of which nature has been so careless. This keystone interest in the individual within the society is probably the basis for the success of public health maneuvers. National health guarantees, preventions or eradication of infections, drives against cancers, concerns for crippled children, heart disease, blindness, mental retardation—the endless list of man's imperfections—are successful or effective not alone, because of the general improvement of health, but because they get through to the single life that nature so cruelly neglects. No reasonable man could elect a return to nature's medicine.

Within the maelstrom of attack upon every physical imperfection in the body