The History of Medicine


This paper was written to study the order of medical advances throughout history. It investigates changing human beliefs concerning the causes of diseases, how modern surgery developed and improved methods of diagnosis and the use of medical statistics. Human beliefs about the causes of disease followed a logical progression from supernatural causes, such as the wrath of the Gods, to natural causes, involving imbalances within the human body. The invention of the microscope led to the discovery of microorganisms which were eventually identified as the cause of infectious diseases. Identification of the particular microorganism causing a disease led to immunization against the disease. Modern surgery only developed after the ending of the taboo against human dissection and the discovery of modern anesthesia and the discovery of the need for anti-septic practices. Modern diagnostic practices began with the discovery of x-rays and the invention of medical scanners. Improved mathematics, especially in probability theory, led to statistical studies which led to a much greater ability, to identify the causes of disease, and to evaluate the effectiveness of treatments. These discoveries all occurred in a necessary and inevitable order with the easiest discoveries being made first and the harder discoveries being made later. The order of discovery determined the course of the history of medicine and is an example of how social and cultural history has to follow a particular course determined by the structure of the world around us.

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