Medical history

Stalwart as he was, the general was often ill. A doctor studies his record and notes shortcomings in Eighteenth-Century medical care.

Cosmetic surgery was born 2,500 years ago and came of age in the inferno of the Western Front. The controversy about it is still growing.

In the past hundred years psychiatry has come full circle: Psychoanalysis lost; medicine won

Not long ago I was lecturing in my course on medical history about people who had accused themselves of smearing feces on a crucifix or committing some equally sacrilegious act. In fact their beliefs had been delusional. Read more >>

IN A HARD WAR theirs may have been the hardest job of all. But together with Army doctors and Army nurses, they worked something very close to a miracle in the European theater.

TODAY NEARLY HALF
a million men and women serve two-thirds of the country in a crucial volunteer service that began only recently—and only because a nine-year-old boy witnessed a drowning

America looked good to a high school senior then, and that year looks wonderfully safe to us now, but it was a time of tumult for all that, and there were plenty of shadows along with the sunshine

It was a very good year. Certainly it was if you were seventeen. I was a senior in high school in 1954, a member of the class of January 1955, at Lincoln High School in Jersey City, New Jersey. Read more >>

In the past seventy years, while several major diseases have been eradicated, one has risen from obscurity to take its place among the nation’s leading killers

The patient at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, in 1919, might have wondered during his last days why all the physicians were so peculiarly interested in his case. When the man died, Dr. Read more >>

As modern medicine has grown ever more powerful, our ways of providing it and paying for it have gotten ever more wasteful, unaffordable, and unfair. An explanation and a possible first step toward a solution.

Perhaps the most astonishing thing about modern medicine is just how very, very modern it is. Ninety percent of the medicine being practiced today did not exist in 1950. Read more >>

With its roots in the medically benighted eighteenth century, and its history shaped by the needs of the urban poor, Bellevue has emerged on its 250th anniversary as a world-renowned center of modern medicine

Bellevue Hospital, the oldest hospital in the United States, turned 250 last year. It started as a six-bed ward for the poor, part of an almshouse on lower Broadway, back in 1736, when New York had a population of about nine thousand. As the city grew, Bellevue grew. Read more >>

In a classic medical paper, Dr. Reginald Fitz identified the disease, named it, showed how to diagnose it, and prescribed an operation that would save tens of millions of lives

On Sunday, January 17,1886, a twenty-four-year-old Boston woman experienced searing, excruciating pain in her right lower abdomen. Read more >>

How our wartime experience conquered a wide range of problems from hemorrhagic shock to yellow fever

WHEN HIPPOCRATES wrote in the fifth century B.C. that “he who would learn surgery should join an army and follow it,” he illuminated the central irony of military medicine. Read more >>

How a favorite local charity of Boston’s Brahmins—parochial and elite—grew into one of our great democratic medical institutions

Americans have never been so healthy, thanks to advances in medical technology and research. Now we have to learn to deal with the staggering costs.

American medicine in a crucial era was at once surprisingly similar and shockingly different from what we know today. You could get aspirin at the drugstore, and anesthesia during surgery. But you could also buy opium over the counter, and the surgery would be more likely to be performed in your kitchen than in a hospital.

IN 1884 ALMOST three-quarters of America’s fifty million people lived on farms or in rural hamlets. Read more >>

“A wound in the heart is mortal,” Hippocrates said two thousand years ago. Until very recently he was right.

IN MAY OF 1975, when I was fortyseven, I developed angina (heart pain due to an insufficient supply of blood to the heart muscle), and about two months later, after a stress test, a coronary angiogram, and various blood tests, I underwent an opera Read more >>

THE HUNDRED-YEAR WAR AGAINST THE CIGARETTE

It was like any other Tuesday lunch hour, until the sheriff’s deputies walked in. Mr. Ernest Bamberger, general manager of the Keystone Mining Company and recent (unsuccessful) Republican candidate for United States senator, and Mr. John C. Read more >>

The Hundredth Anniversary of the American Red Cross

The Father of Psychoanalysis came, saw, conquered—and didn’t like it much

In 1908 the American medical profession was becoming aware of a new method of treating mental disease. It had first been advocated during the 1890’s by two Viennese doctors, Josef Breuer and Sigmund Freud. Read more >>

The single greatest medical discovery of the last century began as a parlor game, and brought tragedy to nearly everyone who had a hand in it

In the early 1840’s a visiting surgeon approaching the main building of Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital, an imposing granite structure designed by Charles Bulfinch, could consider that he was about to enter one of the foremost temples of his art. Read more >>

A young girl’s memories of life in a community haunted by

The mothers of my childhood friends paid special attention to me, and I never understood why. Read more >>

Today’s city, for all its ills, is “cleaner, less crowded, safer, and more livable than its turn-of-the-century counterpart,” argues this eminent urban historian. Yet two new problems are potentially fatal. …

More than a decade ago the phrase “urban crisis” crept into our public conversation. Since then it has become a cliché, connoting a wide range of persistent and dangerous problems confronting our cities. Read more >>

How a Crash Program Developed an Efficient Oral Contraceptive in Less Than a Decade

A good beginning for this story is a meeting in early 1951 of three remarkable people—the greatest feminist of our age, a great philanthropist who was as notably eccentric as she was fantastically wealthy, and a biological scientist whose subsequent world fam Read more >>

Of herbal medicine, a “doctor” named Samuel Thomson, and a sure cure for almost everything…

In the late 1820’s and 1830’s American physicians found themselves with a major rebellion on their hands. Read more >>
In the last week of October, 1918, 2,700 Americans died “over there” in battle against the kaiser’s army. The same week 21,000 Americans died of influenza in the United States. Read more >>

HOW A FARSIGHTED QUAKER MERCHANT AND FOUR GREAT DOCTORS BROUGHT FORTH, WITH MADDENING SLOWNESS, ONE OF THE FINEST MEDICAL CENTERS IN THE WORLD

In 1884, after he was offered an appointment to the medical faculty of the newly created Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Read more >>