Our Present Complaint: American Medicine, Then and Now by Charles E. Rosenberg

By Charles E. Rosenberg

Charles E. Rosenberg, one of many world's such a lot influential historians of medication, offers a desirable research of the present tensions in American medication. Situating those tensions inside their historic and social contexts, Rosenberg investigates the basic features of medication: how we expect approximately ailment, how the scientific occupation thinks approximately itself and its ethical and highbrow obligations, and what potential sufferers -- we all -- anticipate from medication and the clinical occupation. He explores the character and definition of affliction and the way principles of affliction causation replicate social values and cultural negotiations. His analyses of different medication and bioethics give some thought to the traditionally particular ways that we outline and search to regulate what's thoroughly scientific. At a time whilst medical care and biomedical examine generate as a lot angst as they give therapies, this quantity offers invaluable perception into how the perform of drugs has developed, the place it's going, and the way classes from background can enhance its analysis.

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Rosenberg, Explaining Epidemics and Other Studies in the History of Medicine (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992). 22. Daniel Pick, Faces of Degeneration: A European Disorder c. 1848–c. 1918 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989). 23. Robert Aronowitz, Making Sense of Illness: Science, Society, and Disease (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998); see also Hillary Johnson, Osler’s Web: Inside the Labyrinth of the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Epidemic (New York: Crown Books, 1996).

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the clinical-pathological conference provided another institutional and pedagogical ritual. It also underscored the ultimate meaningfulness of discrete disease entities and the social centrality of their diagnosis by focusing on the connection between clinical signs during life and postmortem appearances. 15 In summary, by the end of the nineteenth century, a vocabulary of named disease pictures had already become a widespread and largely unquestioned component of Western medicine.

Illness and disease are not closed systems but mutually constitutive and continuously interacting worlds. In the patient’s case, there is always experience as well; we are always in contact with our own worlds of physical and emotional pain and experience—and thus identity—that cannot be reduced to the external zone of intersection between society and the men and women who constitute it. Identity relates to individual consciousness as well as social location. Pain, sickness, and death help make that particular aspect of experienced identity unavoidable and, at some level, ultimately inaccessible to medicine’s changing understandings of disease and the tools for managing it.

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