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March 1991

The Town-Gown Syndrome: An Ancient Disease, as Yet Uncured

Author Affiliations

Wilmington, Del

Arch Surg. 1991;126(3):285-287. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1991.01410270025002

The first cases of the so-called town-gown syndrome were alleged to have occurred in the 13th century, when the first universities were founded. Throughout the more or less civilized parts of Central and Western Europe, these institutions proliferated, creating the environment for frequent outbreaks of violence and rioting among students, faculty, and neighboring townspeople. During the next three or four centuries, the disease finally remitted as communities realized that having a university in their midst was not only an economic but an intellectual boon, and the students and faculty, although somewhat unruly, stopped laying waste to the adjacent villages (except for a few Ivy League universities).

The syndrome waned and largely disappeared in the rest of the civilized world, but, unfortunately, there has been a recent exacerbation of this troublesome ailment.1 It is fair to say that the town-gown syndrome is essentially limited to the medical profession and is

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