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Download Disease, Medicine and Society in England, 1550-1860 (New by Roy Porter PDF

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By Roy Porter

In his brief yet authoritative research, Roy Porter assesses the impression of ailment at the English earlier than the common availability and public provision of therapy, incorporating into the revised variation new views provided via contemporary examine. He examines the scientific occupation, attitudes to medical professionals and affliction, and the improvement of nation involvement in public healthiness. Drawing jointly a lot fragmentary fabric and offering an in depth bibliography, this booklet is a crucial consultant to the heritage of drugs and to English social historical past.

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Example text

In fact, the best way to approach quackery is to view it as the most entrepreneurial sector of medicine. Few 'empirical' practitioners were regularly trained, unorthodox methods were to the fore, including the use of electric shock therapy, and they drummed up custom by advertising and spectacular publicity, rather than by cultivating a settled general practice by patronage or word-of-mouth recommendation. Quacks made their profits out of selling commodities, above all, nostrums, rather than from receiving fees for advice, expertise and bedside attendance [10; 97].

So people pondered their symptoms and attempted their own diagnosis. Very often, they would then administer medical self- 24 Disease, medicine and society in England help. Well-stocked homes went in for 'kitchen physic', making up bottles of home-brewed purges, vomits, pain-killers, cordials, febrifuges (medicines to reduce fever) and the like. At least by the mid-eighteenth century it was common for families to stock up with shop-bought patent and proprietary medicines such as Dr James' Powders, the Georgian equivalent of aspirin.

A specialist London man-midwife could charge fees running into hundreds of guineas to deliver titled ladies who found it more modish and perhaps safer to have a welltrained, genteel male practitioner rather than the conventional midwife [64]. Outside London, childbirth was increasingly in the hands of surgeon-apothecaries. They shrewdly perceived that the doctor who successfully delivered a baby won lasting gratitude and, most probably, the mother and child as patients for life. Obstetrics paved the way for the triumph of the family doctor in the nineteenth century [117].

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