What is Medical History?
April 2005, Polity
Burnham explains that people are drawn into reading and writing about five often controversial dramas inherent in the stories of:
- healers in all times and places, from conjurers to technical specialists;
- patients from all ages and cultures;
- diseases, from possession by demons, to infections that expand at the rate of an inch every half hour, to subtle environmental poisons;
- discovery and the communication of ideas, great and trivial, flawed and brilliant;
- continuing controversies around ways that health care delivery affected societies - and was shaped by societies and social institutions - through the ages.
Uniting all of these dramas, Burnham shows, was the tension between the forces of medicalization and the forces of demedicalization.
Burnham, a distinguished and versatile historian of medicine and health, offers a colorful introduction to both traditional subjects, such as the evolution of medical instruments, and the latest controversies. In this dynamic field, he contends, the unanswered questions remain as attractive as the scholarship that gives rise to them.
Introduction: Where Medical History Came From 1
The First Drama: The Healer 10
The Second Drama: The Sick Person 32
The Third Drama: Diseases 55
The Fourth Drama: Discovering and Communicating Knowledge 80
The Fifth Drama: Medicine and Health Interacting with Society 108
Conclusion: Where Medical History is Going 135
Suggestions for Further Reading 143
- What is Medical History? will be an invaluable textbook for all students of the history of medicine and science.
- The second title in Polity's new series, 'What is History?', designed to be a key introductory textbook for students of the history of medicine and science.
- Explores the reasons behind the expansion of the field of the history of medicine and health in recent times, for those with no prior knowledge of the subject.
- Sheds light on a field once written entirely by physicians, but which now attracts not only historians but also policy makers and health care workers of all kinds.
- Structured around 5 key themes: healers in all times and all places; patients from all ages and cultures; diseases; the discovery and communication of ideas; health care and societies.
- John Burnham is a distinguished and versatile historian of medicine and health, and here he offers a colourful introduction to both traditional subjects and the latest controversies.
Mark Harrison, Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine, University of Oxford