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By Christopher Lawrence

Christopher Lawrence's serious evaluate of medicine's position within the improvement of contemporary Britain examines the importance of the medical come across in modern society.
* first brief synoptic research of its type
* breaks new flooring through bringing jointly specialized scholarship right into a wide argument
* exhibits how the scientific occupation created a truly particular position for itself
* relates drugs to normal social coverage

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Additional resources for Medicine in the Making of Modern Britain: 1700-1920 (Historical Connections)

Sample text

There was the contest within orthodoxy, between the élite and the rank-and-file; there was the attempt to control unorthodoxy; there was the appeal on all sides to science; and there was the endeavour in some quarters to make medicine one of the fundamental resources for the rational ordering of industrial society. But if the medical struggle after Waterloo was conducted in much the same terms as it had been before, its intensity was far greater. A great number of medical men experienced the economic depression of these years.

In the hands of women such as Harriet Martineau, a political writer, it become a locus of resistance to what was perceived as the increasingly constrained world of middle-class, female life. Martineau’s adoption of mesmerism as a cure for her complaints (which orthodox medical men denounced as ‘frenzied fantasies’) serves to make another point (Cooter 1991). As we have observed several times, the doctor was not the uncontested custodian of medical doctrines and practice. At first glance, therefore, there are many similarities between the 1830s and the late eighteenth century, for in both periods unorthodox healers abounded and commercialism ran riot.

These new doctors, the general practitioners, were surgeons, apothecaries (or both) and Scottish trained MDs. For the most part they had put together their occupational skills by combining apprenticeship and self-education: taking classes in medicine, anatomy, chemistry and midwifery in the private London schools, walking the wards of the London hospitals and attending the University of Edinburgh (Loudon 1986). But this latter institution had, it seemed to many, ossified, and in private schools in the northern capital and in that city’s College of Surgeons (the least conservative of all the corporations) other teachers seized the initiative and were teaching anatomical and medical ideas which they had imported from France (Lawrence 1988b; Jacyna 1994).

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