Tuesday, June 12, 2007

EoR Attends Rehab

The University of Missouri-Columbia's Region VII Rehabilitation Continuing Education Program provides an interesting history of rehabilitation.

Early healers used a "naturalistic system" based on observation of events and "what seems to make sense". Today their advice sounds like bizarre folk remedies, but these physicians were trying to do the same things modern physicians are - reduce suffering by treating symptoms with prescriptions. The illnesses they treated include both "acute disease" (broken bones, abdominal pains, etc.) and chronic conditions, which we would call disabilities ("crippled", "possessed", "feeble minded", etc.). [...] Even though some of these prescriptions seem disgusting, if you look at what the writer says, he always talks about first listening to the patient's description and observing their symptoms. Next he describes a "diagnosis" based on the description, and only after that does he decide what treatment to use. Even though he uses very strange terms and treatments, he is using the same "systematic medical approach" that doctors use today. This is the beginning of medical care for people with disabilities.

Sadly, today many alternative medicine (an aside: medicine is "the science of preventing, diagnosing, alleviating or curing disease"*, therefore the "alternative" to medicine is not doing any of these things) still adhere to "what seems to make sense" and have made little or no progression since the first days of medical treatment (indeed, the older the therapy the greater the cachet it has).

Page three has some wonderful illustrations of medieval medical treatment that resonate strongly with the practices seen in the parlours of reiki healers and the rooms of homeopaths today:

At this point, society is still using magical thinking to understand mental problems, instead of what we would call science.

Even the anti-vaccination brigade have their precursors:

The "new inoculation" is one of the first vaccines - a small pox vaccine derived from the sores of infected cattle. Its development was a major victory for germ theory, but people were not enthusiastic about being injected with something so crazy and disgusting. Notice how parts of their bodies change into the heads of cows, representing the kinds of things people were afraid might happen to them.

EoR was also impressed by the advertisement for Hamlin's Wizard Oil. Was it really made from wizards? Or was it used to lubricate wizards?

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