Re: [pepysdiary] "Passions & Tempers: a history of the humours" -- NYT - 070/8/07
- A very pertinent read, and nice graphic of the Four Humors (sic).
Interesting that the shift of paradigm was prompted by the correction of
anatomy, climaxing with Harvey's grasp of circulation of the blood and the
heart's pumping (sounds like an Hobbesian mechanism to me!). (Cf.. Dr.
Burnett's ref of a Pepysian ulcer.)
"The death knell of Galens authority had been sounded, and indeed the
death knell of the acceptance of any form of technological authority not
supported by the researchers own reproducible observations and the proofs
that followed from them. The scientific method had been born. And yet, it
would be almost three centuries before clinical physicians though
overwhelmed by evidence of its error could bring themselves to forsake
therapies based on the last vestiges of the theory of humors."
The review does not record whether Arikha mentions that recently-popular
Ayurveda medicine alternative medicine holds that "health exists when there
is a balance between three fundamental bodily humours or doshas...."
Back to the future.
aka Terry F
At 07:51 PM 7/7/2007 +0000, you wrote:
>Bad Medicine By SHERWIN B. NULAND
>Published: July 8, 2007
>Noga Arikha's "Passions and Tempers" illustrates some of the rewards
>and some of the pitfalls of historical scholarship. To Arikha's
>immense credit, she provides a thoroughly documented account of the
>ways in which a wrong-headed theory dominated medical thinking for
>more than 2,000 years, refusing to yield place at the bedside long
>after it had been proved erroneous by clear-eyed observation and the
>development of experimental science. One of Arikha's contributions to
>the general reader's knowledge, in fact, is to use the history of the
>humors those bodily fluids once thought to hold the key to
>understanding human health and personality to demonstrate the
>difficulty that physicians have always had in giving up outmoded ways
>of treating actual patients.
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