Medicine, Magic, and Religion: The Fitzpatrick Lectures Delivered before the Royal College of Physicians of London in 1915 and 1916

Medicine, Magic, and Religion: The Fitzpatrick Lectures Delivered before the Royal College of Physicians of London in 1915 and 1916

Medicine, Magic, and Religion: The Fitzpatrick Lectures Delivered before the Royal College of Physicians of London in 1915 and 1916

Medicine, Magic, and Religion: The Fitzpatrick Lectures Delivered before the Royal College of Physicians of London in 1915 and 1916

Synopsis

One of the most fascinating men of his generation, W.H.R. Rivers was a British doctor and psychiatrist as well as a leading ethnologist. Immortalized as the hero of Pat Barker's award-winning Regeneration trilogy, Rivers was the clinician who, in the First World War, cared for the poet Siegfried Sassoon and other infantry officers injured on the western front. His researches into the borders of psychiatry, medicine and religion made him a prominent member of the British intelligentsia of the time, a friend of H.G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw and Bertrand Russell. Part of his appeal lay in an extraordinary intellect, mixed with a very real interest in his fellow man. Medicine, Magic and Religion is a prime example of this. A social institution, it is one of Rivers' finest works. In it, Rivers introduced the then revolutionary idea that indigenous practices are indeed rational, when viewed in terms of religious beliefs.

Excerpt

This book represents perhaps the first attempt to interpret with real knowledge and sympathetic insight the thoughts and ideas that find expression in Primitive Medicine. It is therefore a contribution of unique value to the history of medicine. But it is more than that; it is a revelation of the human mind and of the fundamental principles underlying the social practices and religious beliefs of the less sophisticated members of the human family. Moreover, this book crystallizes a particular phase of the development of Dr. Rivers's ethnological opinion, which is of special interest to those of his fellow-anthropologists who are striving to interpret the workings of the human mind in primitive societies.

After delivering the four Fitzpatrick Lectures at the Royal College of Physicians of London (in 1915 and 1916)-and issuing them in The Lancet in the form in which they were actually given-Dr. Rivers definitely postponed their publication as a book, which is required by the terms of the FitzPatrick endowment, until he had collected enough material to write a

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