A Chinese Physician: Wang Ji and the Stone Mountain Medical Case Histories

A Chinese Physician: Wang Ji and the Stone Mountain Medical Case Histories

A Chinese Physician: Wang Ji and the Stone Mountain Medical Case Histories

A Chinese Physician: Wang Ji and the Stone Mountain Medical Case Histories

Synopsis

A Chinese Physicianis the portrait of a 16th century medical writer and clinical practitioner. Drawing on socio-economic/biographic, textual, and gender analysis along side a variety of sources, from hagiographical biographies to medical case histories, the book tells three very different but complementary stories about what it was to practise medicine in 16th century China. Woven together, these stories combine to create a multi-dimensional portrayal that brings to life the very human experiences, frustrations and aspirations of a well respected and influential physician who struggled to win respect from fellow practitioners and loyalty from patients. The book creates a vibrant and colourful picture of contemporary medical practice and at the same time deepens our understanding of the interrelationship between gender culture and medicine.

Excerpt

Case histories represent one of very few remaining opportunities to enter into the world of historical clinical medical practice. Whereas theoretical medical texts largely describe the premises upon which Chinese medicine was based, case histories give us some access to the actual practice of this art. Wang Ji tells us not only about the basic elements of a case, such as how he diagnosed the illness, what caused it, how he treated it, and whether or not the patient recovered, but also about how the illness corresponds to the theoretical framework of traditional Chinese medicine, and about his interactions with the patients, their families and the other healers he comes across. This colourful portrayal of his medical practice allows us to glimpse a very different side to life as a practising physician in the Ming dynasty, one more grounded in the concrete realities of sick individuals, worried families and fierce rivalries between practitioners than we might have imagined, given our earlier picture of a well-respected and successful elite physician, steeped in classical learning, embodying Confucian benevolence, publishing medical texts to local and national acclaim,

An earlier version of this chapter appeared as ‘Medical Practice in the Ming Dynasty - a Practitioner’s View: Evidence from Wang Ji’s Shishan yi’an’. Chinese Science. 1998. 15:37-80. the revised version is reprinted here by permission from the journal East Asian Science, Technology and Medicine (formerly Chinese Science).

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