Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Physician of the Future

It's disconcerting when a journal devoted to the quackery of homeopathy--which even in its late-19th-century heyday was derided by many--pans one's earnest medical paper. This sad fate happened to Detroit doctor Mary A. Willard when she read her paper on "The Physician of the Future" at a May 17, 1892 Detroit meeting of the State Homeopathic Medical Society. From an article in the January, 1893 issue of the Homeopathic Recorder:

"Says Dr. Willard, "What is disease in its entity? Sin. What is sin? God's broken laws, but let us say Nature instead of God." But why say Nature? Is nature God? The physician of the future is to have authority "to regulate all matters pertaining to health," i.e., to drain swamps, to abolish graveyards, funeral processions, corsets, French heels, alcohol, tobacco and houses of ill fame, etc. "He will see that medical colleges give thorough instruction in sanitary science, and that none but clean men and women, pure physically, pure morally, receive their degree." The physician of the future certainly will have his hands full, and, as is said in this degenerate age, be a "boss." If it were possible for reformers, medical or lay, to make clean and pure all foul and dirty places, habits, men and women, we should say, All Hail! But they can't do it. It is against Dr. Willard's major premises, that the root of all the trouble is "sin." If reformers have the money they can drain swamps, etc., but they cannot cure "sin" by hygienic measures or statutes. If they can, then they should hasten to abolish the Church, which teaches something very different."

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