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April 15, 1974

Anti-Intellectualism in Medicine

Author Affiliations

University of Texas Galveston

JAMA. 1974;228(3):289. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230280017016

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To the Editor.—  In response to the editorial (227:432, 1974), it is important to establish that clinical medicine is not an intellectual pursuit. It uses intelligence, but theoretical concepts beyond the biochemical-mechanistic theory of life are absent. This is particularly true for psychiatry which, although it deals with the inanimate, has severe intellectual limitations. There is no anti-intellectualism where there is no intellectualism.

Intellectualism.—  1. Philos. The doctrine that knowledge is wholly derived from the actions of the intellect, i.e., from pure reason. 2. The exercise of the intellect alone; devotion to a merely intellectual culture or pursuits. (Oxford English Dictionary)The current major unrecognized act of anti-intelligence lies in the "problem-oriented" methodology sweeping across American medicine. This system denies the extensive nosological researches of the past. It severely restricts the use of the established taxonomy of disease and replaces these meaningful terms with noncategorical statements which have good form