Just how much good has medicine done over the years? And how much damage does it continue to do? The history of medicine begins with Hippocrates in the fifth century BC. Yet until the invention of antibiotics in the 1930s doctors, in general, did their patients more harm than good. In this fascinating new look at the history of medicine, David Wootton argues that for more than 2300 years doctors have relied on their patients' misplaced faith in their ability to cure. Over and over again major discoveries which could save lives were met with professional resistance. And this is not just a phenomenon of the distant past. The first patient effectively treated with penicillin was in the 1880s; the second not until the 1940s. There was overwhelming evidence that smoking caused lung cancer in the 1950s; but it took thirty years for doctors to accept the claim that smoking was addictive. As Wootton graphically illustrates, throughout history and right up to the present, bad medical practice has often been deeply entrenched and stubbornly resistant to evidence. This is a bold and challenging book - and the first general history of medicine to acknowledge the frequency with which doctors do harm.
In this controversial new account of the history of medicine, David Wootton argues that, from the fifth century BC until the 1930s, doctors actually did more harm than good, and asks just how much harm they still do today.
INTRODUCTION: BAD MEDICINE/BETTER MEDICINE; PART I: THE HIPPOCRATIC TRADITION; CONCLUSION TO PART I: THE PLACEBO EFFECT; PART II: REVOLUTION POSTPONED; CONCLUSION TO PART II: TRUST NOT THE PHYSICIAN; PART III: MODERN MEDICINE; CONCLUSION TO PART III: PROGRESS DELAYED; PART FOUR: AFTER CONTAGION
Aptly described as 'explosive' by the British Medical Journal, Bad Medicine is a four-chapter thriller written by accomplished British historian David Wootton ... Wootton's writing style serves as an excellent example to both historians and philosophers: short, concise, clear and engaging sentences which are structured around the period or argument presented ... Overall, Wootton majestically manages to apply historical objectivity to emotionally sensitive issues like death, dying and disease. * Alex Benedyk , Economics and Philosophy Blog *This book is provocative and well written; it leaves you wanting to find out more. * Sameer Rahim, Daily Telegraph *Bad Medicine is provocative and iconoclastic; essential reading for every GP. * PD Smith, The Guardian *
Oxford University Press