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August 3, 1984

Disease and Its Control: The Shaping of Modern Thought

Author Affiliations

Northwestern University Medical School Chicago

JAMA. 1984;252(5):691. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03350050079040

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Dr Hudson has written a lively, informative, and thought-provoking book. Pointing out that "our conception of a disease dictates our response to that disease," Hudson traces the doctor's and patient's relationships to disease down through the centuries. He shows how we have obtained our information about diseases from ancient times to the present and describes the accompanying changes in viewpoints.

Disease first appeared as a product or retribution from some supernatural power. Then, primarily through the work of Hippocrates, disease became a natural and generalized concept. Hudson devotes considerable space to the role of the anatomic idea in leading physicians toward increased understanding. He next describes the changing view of disease as a localized process, the role of the experimental approach, and the gradual development of the concept of specificity in causation, prevention, and therapy. The author carefully distinguishes between disease (broad and impersonal) and illness (specific and personal) and