Doctoring the South: Southern Physicians and Everyday Medicine in the Mid-Nineteenth Century

By Steven M. Stowe | Go to book overview

Introduction
PHYSICIANS, EVERYDAY
MEDICINE, AND THE COUNTRY
ORTHODOX STYLE

This is a study of physicians and medical practice in the southern United States during the mid-nineteenth century. It seeks to describe and interpret the work of ordinary practitioners who struggled to understand disease and care for the sick. For those readers who know little about medical care in this era, I hope to show why it was an important aspect of social and cultural life. For those acquainted with medical history, I hope to defamiliarize, and thus illuminate, features of ordinary practice in this time and place, which will deepen our understanding of what everyday doctoring signified in the medical past.

In one sense, sickness and health are impersonal processes. When an individual becomes sick, it may be seen as the result of the implacable objectivity of living in a complex biological world. Few people think of sickness in this way alone, however, because sickness and health are intensely subjective experiences, too, arising from people’s understanding of their own bodies and personalities. Becoming sick and getting well thus are expressive of an inclusive sense of living in a world of danger, reprieve, and the possibility for solace. All of these are the subject of this book. They are explored by looking at the labors and perceptions of ordinary M.D.s in the South during the years from 1830 to 1880, a span of time just before their style of medicine began to make the shift toward what became accepted as “modern” healing, with its emphasis on biomedical science, institutions, and specialism.1

This transition was, of course, a fundamental turning point in the understanding of disease and the effective provision of care everywhere in the United

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Doctoring the South: Southern Physicians and Everyday Medicine in the Mid-Nineteenth Century
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Studies in Social Medicine ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction - Physicians, Everyday Medicine, and the Country Orthodox Style 1
  • Part One - Choosing Medicine 13
  • Chapter One - Men, Schools, and Careers 15
  • Chapter Two - The Science of All Life 41
  • Chapter Three - Starting out 76
  • Part Two - Doing Medicine 99
  • Chapter Four - Livelihood 101
  • Chapter Five - Bedside 131
  • Part Three - Making Medicine 165
  • Chapter Six - The Lives of Others 167
  • Chapter Seven - Landscape, Race, and Faith 200
  • Chapter Eight - Witnessing 228
  • Epilogue - The Civil War and the Persistence of the Country Orthodox Style 259
  • Notes 273
  • Bibliography 327
  • Index 365
  • Studies in Social Medicine 374
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