Chapter 12 Medicine, Medical Dominance, and Public Health pp. 230-246
The Origins of Scientific Medicine
Supernatural explanations for the disease were first challenge in classical Greece. Hippocrates, generally
considered the ‘Father of Medicine’, is credited with laying the foundation of medicine as a science; he
rejected superstition and magic and argued that every disease had only natural causes.
o He subscribed to the humoral of disease, that is, the belief that each of out four natural elements
– air, earth, fire, and water – was associated with a particular humor.
o He believed that illness resulted when these four humors (blood, friend, yellow bile, and black
bile) were not in balance and that this could be detected through physical symptoms.
Systematic doubt empirical verification by experiment became the new paradigm – what we know today
as a scientific method.
One of the most important medical advancements in the 17 century was in physiology and William
Harvey’s experimental proof that blood conserved and then circulated through the body by the heart.
In the 18 century, an Italian physician and professor of an anatomy Giovanni Morgagni, demonstrated
that specific diseases could be traced to specific pathologies and individual organs and hence developed
enough and I’m not a monocle concept of disease.
And Austrian internist, Josef Leopold Auenbrugger, discovered that he could detect fluid in the lungs by
talking on the chest.
An English country doctor Edward Jenner, pave the way for modern immunology with his discovery
that person inoculated with cowpox developed immunity to smallpox, which at the time was a leading
cause of death amongst children.
Biomedicine, often referred to as allopathic medicine or conventional medicine, is considered to be the
scientific approach to treating disease and illness.
Pat and Hugh Armstrong critically examine five assumptions that form the basis for allopathic medicine
o The Determinants of Illness Are Primarily Biological: An underlying premise is that mind and
body are separate, and that each of these disease has a specific etiology, that is, each disease has
a specific cause that can be diagnosed by specific medical tests.
o Biomedicine Uses the Engineering Model of the Body: Biomedicine operates within a unified
paradigm or model that views the body as a machine. That is, the body is approached as if it was
composed of a number of different parts that can be separated and analyze from each other. The
Armstrongs explained that this approach to the human body, combined with the doctrine of
specific etiologies, make possible if fee for service payment, whereby each service or task is
calculated to be worth a specific amount, and doctors are reimbursed accordingly.
o Health Care Is Primarily about Curing Illness or Disability: according to Pat and High
Armstrong, ‘management techniques developed in industry are transferred to health care on the
assumption that fixing a care part is not much different from fixing a car part’.
o Medicine Is Scientific: An assumption is that all surgical procedures, medications, and tests that
doctor use have been proven scientifically; that is, they have been evaluated through experiments
using double blind randomized clinical trials, that there is agreement on what constitutes
scientific evidence, and that doctors are value neutral in their practice of medicine.
o The doctor is The Authority and Expert: Allopathic doctors today I consider the master labelers
of illness. That is, they are the ones who have the po