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October 1961

A Patient's Pilgrimage Through Medical History

Author Affiliations


Department of Internal Medicine of the College of Medicine of the University of Iowa.

Arch Intern Med. 1961;108(4):548-558. doi:10.1001/archinte.1961.03620100040006

Learned volumes have been written about the history of medicine and physicians through the ages of recorded history, but not much has been said about the patient. He has been neglected in the historian's excitement about the physician or the physician's fascination with himself. The concern of contemporary physicians interested in medical history is the large problem of MEDICINE rather than the patient. The importance of these attitudes is realized when one stops and takes thought about diseases and patients. Concepts of illness change with time and circumstance. Disease itself changes. Each epoch and each society produces its own illnesses, for the most part not willfully but nonetheless, effectually. Early man fought starvation, cold, wild beasts, his neighbors and invisible spirits. He lived hard and died young. When civilization arose cities caused diseases of crowding and unhygienic conditions. Today the triumphs of public health are producing a society dominated by

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