Enter the Physician: The Transformation of Domestic Medicine, 1760-1860 (History Amer Science & Technol)

by Lamar Riley Murphy


"Going to see the doctor" is a familiar ritual to contemporary Americans, who rely on physicians for diagnosis, treatment and preventive advice. 200 years ago, however, most citizens trusted themselves or lay healers rather than physicians to manage even serious illness. This survey of a disparate body of advice literature uncovers surprising areas of consensus about the structure of the doctor-patient relationship. Between 1760 and 1860 health publicists transformed medical care by promoting the reallocation of health-care duties, in a crusade reflecting and reinforcing larger social and cultural trends toward new gender and family roles. Although the publicists believed that physicians should direct medical care, they envisioned a partnership based on mutual respect and informed interdependence, not the elevation of the doctor at the expense of the lay person.

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