From the best novel ever, War and Peace: “Natasha’s illness was so serious that, fortunately for her and for her parents, the consideration of all that had caused the illness, her conduct and the breaking off of her engagement, receded into the background. She was so ill that it was impossible for them to consider in how far she was to blame for what had happened. She could not eat or sleep, grew visibly thinner, coughed, and, as the doctors made them feel, was in danger. They could not think of anything but how to help her. Doctors came to see her singly and in consultation, talked much in French, German, and Latin, blamed one another, and prescribed a great variety of medicines for all the diseases known to them, but the simple idea never occurred to any of them that they could not know the disease Natasha was suffering from, as no disease suffered by a live man can be known, for every living person has his own peculiarities and always has his own peculiar, personal, novel, complicated disease, unknown to medicine—not a disease of the lungs, liver, skin, heart, nerves, and so on mentioned in medical books, but a disease consisting of one of the innumerable combinations of the maladies of those organs.
Swedish television showing a documentary on health professor Hans Roslinghttp://svtplay.se/v/1654393...Available until September 18, 2009. Actually this documentary is more concentrated on Rosling as a person, more of his views on the factual matters of medicin and social and economic developement can be found on e.g. TED, but it's still somewhat interesting.
As for the War and Peace example, probably social concerns can never be completely be separated from medicine per se, although of course Tolstoy's example is to the extreme. The overt point there is of course that Natacha's "illness" makes it possible to save face in the social scandal. Good that the doctors could be of help to the Rostovs in also that. But bacteria in drinking water that kill babies is a bit different matter.
This is why modern medicine's gold standard is double-blind randomised trials.
I don't remember the exact source and year, and I'm too lazy to go look it up, but Taubes in "Good Calories, Bad Calories" traced an explicit low-carb diet back into the middle to late-middle 1800s.
I do miss EY's presence on this blog, but I don't miss those darn links
Today, we'd probably be giving Natasha Prozac or other such pills.
Incidentally, I've read that Charles Dickens's novels contain detailed descriptions of what are now recognized as various medical disorders, long before they were known to be medical problems. For example, a character in "The Pickwick Papers" exhibits textbook symptoms of severe sleep apnea, and one in "Bleak House" has dyslexia.
Well, it's certainly an old idea. I remember the main heroine in "For Whom the Bell Tolls" saying she would stop eating potatoes so she could stay skinny. Everything is cyclical. There's nothing new under the sun.
One of the things I recall about "Anna Karenina" is that it has a paragraph describing the employment of the Atkins diet in the same context it is used today. If Wikipedia is to be believed, that makes it one of the earliest descriptions of the metabolic impacts of switching to low carbohydrate diets, but Tolstoy writes it as though it was common knowledge in the 1870s.
You don't have to be a medical expert to know that all else equal, new evidence that increases P(A|~B) (in this case, the use of medical treatment even when it won't work, on account of the impulse to "do something" and make people feel taken care of), should increase P(~B|A).
The discovery of additional motives for medicine (aside from curing someone directly) should lower our confidence that any actually applied medical procedure works.
Maybe its describing something real, but let's keep in mind the logical fallacy of generalization from fictional evidence.
It seems to me Natasha suffered from a rare but serious condition known as fibromyalgia. She should have asked her doctor about Lyrica.
Ah, yes; Tolstoy was quite the medical expert.