Pathology of Contagious Diseases

Charles Severn
1831 Boston Medical and Surgical Journal  
Impressed with the importance and necessity of acquiring ideas as accurate as possible in pathology, and convinced that in order to accomplish this wc have much to unlearn, I am induced to submit the following suggestions to the notice of your readers. Medical practitioners have probably always been more influenced by opinions than by facts, and adhere to the notions of talented individuals with all the partiality of cherished prejudice. We are prone to receive the dicta of those authorities to
more » ... whom we look with confidence for accurate views and appropriate modes of treatment ; and if these individuals have formed and promulgated imaginative theories, destitute of the solid basis of observation, the influence they may exert on our minds, and the bias they may give to our practice, may be incalculably dangerous. One professor, to whom I have often listened with delight, and whose powerful eloquence would equally have fitted him for the bar or the senate, traced all diseases to the liver, ami believed all his patients to labor under hepatalgia, hopatagra, or hepatitis. His catholicon was calo-mel, by which he sought to remove complaints which existed not in the body, of the patient, but in the fertile imagination of the physician ; and although the diagnosis he had formed was not unfrequently falsified by the postmortem examination, he adhered to his opinions to the last. Another eminent and eccentric individual, by whose death the profession has been deprived of one of its most successful cultivators, and whose talents have much contributed to elevate a neighboring school to its present distinguished rank, considered all diseases to bo occasioned by the derangement of the stomach and chylopoielic viscera, an opinion which led him to adopt a most compendious method of prescribing, and an easy system of therapeutics. Without the investigation of symptoms, external or internal, the same prescription, diet, regimen, and directions, were thus deemed equally applicable to one patient or one hundred, and capable of alleviating any class or species of disease in Cullen's nosology. It cannot be disputed that the regulations of the diet, and of the alvine excretions, are essentially requisite to the successful treatment of any disease, and that solids and fluids, received into the stomach, which we measure by pounds and ounces, will be as likely to influence the health as those divided by grains and scruples ; and Mr. Abernethy
doi:10.1056/nejm183111010051201 fatcat:dxd4okzo7rey5fw77reztc62t4