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February 1959

The Medical World of the Eighteenth Century.

AMA Arch Intern Med. 1959;103(2):340-341. doi:10.1001/archinte.1959.00270020168025

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Dr. King points out that there is no logic in using a century as a dividing marker in historical studies. Such devices are convenient, since they put the past into manageable packets. Perhaps historians of the distant future will see in the eighteenth century the clear signs of the emergence of what we call modern-day medicine. The problems are very much the same. They are discussed in historical perspective, mainly through the medium of biographical sketches of prominent physicians of the period, by an analysis of their writings, textbooks, practices, ideas, and ideals. The story begins with the age old feud between apothecaries and physicians. In the days before asepsis and anesthesia, surgery was heroic, bloody, and often fatal. The vast preponderance of the practice of medicine lay in the administration of the most extravagant array of unusual concoctions, provided by the apothecary, but in many cases of his own

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