The past bears the genesis of present and future. History forms the basis of all
knowledge and is the convenient avenue of approach to any subject or any
discipline of science. The author has attempted to prepare a short synopsis to
introduce the readers with the masters from past and their theories, the
contributions which helped evolve the medicine to its present state. Sketches of
masters with the detailed contributions done by them, their findings which laid to
the foundation of todays system of medicine have been discussed. Its an
interesting journey to our roots so we can look upto a strong future by learning
from our past.
Dr D.D. Banerjee, MBS (Hom.) is the former principal of PCM Homoeopathic
Hospital and College, Calcutta. He is the member of Central Council of
Homoeonathy, New Delhi; Former member of Council of Homoeopathy, West
Bengal; Examiner of Council of Homoeopathy, West Bengal, Punjab, Haryana
and University of Bihar. He is also the author of Concise Dissection Manual.
Other books by the same author:
The physician of to-day is the product of 20th and 21st Century revolutions in science
Appreciation of ultra molecular biology, genetical evolution and other forms of
sophistication of different branches of science have come to such a stage, that the
medical profession occasionally loses its relation to humanity.
Medicine is a life-long study and it is true that one must progressively acquire more
and newer knowledge.
The pursuit of the truth of the laws of nature is defined as science. Man should try
to understand himself and his surroundings and the evolution of scienufic and technological
A physician who does not wants to be dictated to by trade should be well conversant
with the progress of science and try to realise man as a whole.
Technology can stagnate without the evolution of scientific progress. The present may
be an evolutionary product or a disappointment of the past.
In March 1944 Sir Winston Churchill remarked that "The more you can look back,
the further you can go forward."
The past bears the genesis of the present and future. History forms the basis of all
knowledge and is the convenient avenue of approach to any subject or to any discipline
As such it is natural to regard the evolution and progress of medicine from bygone
times as an essential background to modern medical education.
The structure of the human society has radically altered during the last 200 years,
spearheaded by Industrial revolution and end of feudalism.
We are trying for anew era, where the crude birth rate should be 21.0%, crude death
rate 9.0%, annual growth rate 1.20%, rate of reproduction 1.0%, family size 2.3,
effectivecouple protection rate 60%, infant mortality rate less than 60%, matemal mortality
rate less than 2%.
Feudalistic ideas and beliefs were such that death comes as a punishment of man’s
disobedience to God are obsolete. The basic nature of human life, the forms, the patterns,
intrinsic nature of ideas, beliefs, motives, the organisation and struggles of the societ:
are heading fora newer patterns. Helmholt’s conservation of Energy (1847), Darwin's
origin of Species (1859), Virchow’s cellular pathology (1858), Pavloff’s science of
conditional reflexes and researches in psychology including Psycho-somatic conditions
did away forever with many silly propositions and gained importance in medicine.
Natural phenomena are being explained on a rational factional basis. Conception
of health has taken a newer dimention.
The question of "the collective and individual" psychology and health has taken
a foot-hold in the medical profession.
The Hippocratic tradition though it remained a living force for long years in the
western world and tried to eliminate superstious and degenerating habits of life, yet could
not give the right solution to the clinician.
It only pointed out that "‘Nature" should not be totally rejected. The clinicians went
in serch of definite causative organism of ill health.
Different centres of learning at Indian sub-continent, China, Rome, Arabia, Egypt
came up; universities like Bologna (1113 A.D.), Padua (1222 A.D.) were established for
medical teaching. Previously it was religiously oriented. Gradually it was felt that
the aim of medical education should be to produce a cultured and highly educated -
gentlemen or women with an adequate knowledge of medicine and unprejudiced
observation for which one must have a minimum knowledge of historical background.
I have attempted to write a short synopsis of the history of medicine.
It is obivious that a work of this nature cannot be undertaken without assistance and
I pay my gratitude to my friends specially to Dr. M. S. Zaman and Sri Somnath Chatterjee
of Bishudhasram, Burdwan for their help.
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