Treating yourself: self-diagnosis amongst natural philosophers and physicians and the early modern medical case study

Roos, Anna Marie (2018) Treating yourself: self-diagnosis amongst natural philosophers and physicians and the early modern medical case study. In: Testimonies: states of mind and states of the body in the early modern period. Archimedes . Springer, New York. ISBN UNSPECIFIED


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To test the parameters of the extent to which bodily health, bodily pain and the development of a uniquely scientific understanding of nature were experienced and expressed, this essay will analyse three cases where early modern English physicians and natural philosophers made a diagnosis. But in these cases of John Wilkins (1614-72), Martin Lister (1639-1712), and John Ray (1627-1705), their descriptions and diagnoses were of their own illnesses, their descriptions were not in a published treatise, but in private correspondence. As their own bodies were a dataset, examining their letters elucidates where datasets and mindsets meet in the seventeenth century. On the one hand, Wilkins Lister, and Ray displayed clinical detachment and a high level of empirical detail about their own suffering. They were their own experimental subjects. On the other hand, they expressed emotional despair too along with data presentation, and their own pain was pre-Cartesian, a broken state of nature. One might argue that the private nature of their correspondence makes these sources problematic for analyses of public scientific practice, but in the case of Lister, his medical case was published anonymously in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, and reprinted in his Letters and Mixt Discourses. This incidence in itself assists us in elucidating norms for formulation and publication of early modern medical and scientific case studies.

Keywords:John Ray, Martin Lister, John Wilkins, early modern history of medicine, case study, history of the body, history of science, seventeenth century, The Royal Society
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V142 Modern History 1600-1699
B Subjects allied to Medicine > B990 Subjects Allied to Medicine not elsewhere classified
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V380 History of Science
Divisions:College of Arts > School of History & Heritage > School of History & Heritage (Heritage)
ID Code:19970
Deposited On:10 Jan 2016 16:30

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