By Helen Dingwall
Together with advancements in drugs, surgical procedure, and replacement drugs on the subject of the altering financial and social history, the writer deals a brand new synthesis of drugs and society in Scotland.
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Additional info for A history of Scottish medicine: themes and influences
Meanwhile, though, as well as catering for the religious well-being of the Scots, the church in its many forms provided legal, medical and educational services as well as social control and the punishment of offenders against the social norms as defined or articulated at the time. An essential factor in the construction of a secular and professionalised medicine and surgery was the evolution of secular and professionalised 38 MEDICINE IN MEDIEVAL SCOTLAND 39 institutions. 1 The main purpose of these organisations was to create and maintain occupational privileges; to act as social protectors of members and their dependants, and to – in some instances – maintain an altar dedicated to a suitable saint.
Although it is the case that, as Comrie states, ‘medicine in the southern part of Scotland has always remained more “orthodox” than elsewhere’,14 none the less, it would appear that at least the core ‘orthodoxies’ of the holistic approach can be detected in even the most apparently bizarre of treatments. In many cases, the more bizarre or esoteric elements related to the attendant rituals or incantations, rather than the administration or ingestion of bizarre or esoteric ingredients (although in fact many of the elements of Galenical drugs contained items which would be included in the bizarre category, such as earthworm broth, crushed beetles or roasted moles).
Galen, meanwhile, tried to make progress in the elucidation of the structure and function of the human body, but his dissection of animals and false extrapolations led him to several errors, such as describing the human uterus in similar terms to that of the dog. But while the dominant empire may have changed, medical practice had not. 12 The nature of medical philosophy meant that it had to be individual; the equally individual and unregulated nature of medical ‘training’ provided opportunities for all sorts of people to practise many different forms of medicine.
A history of Scottish medicine: themes and influences by Helen Dingwall