By Iain Bamforth
During this wide-reaching abecedarium, medical professional and poet Iain Bamforth dissects the clash of values embodied in what we name medicinenever solely a technology and now not rather the artwork it was. Bamforth brings to undergo his adventure of medication from around the globe, from the hightech American health center of Paris to group health and wellbeing centres of Papua, together with his enticing curiosity within the stranger manifestations of scientific issues on the subject of artwork, literature and tradition. Drawing at the lives and concepts of a few of Europe’s most
celebrated writers, from Auden to Zola with stop-offs on the likes of Darwin, Kafka, Orwell, Proustand Weil alongside the best way, Bamforth deals insightful and witty diagnoses of the tradition of medication within the smooth age.
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Extra info for A Doctor's Dictionary: Writings on Culture & Medicine
Alright, he will deceive them. Order requires domination, and domination requires a lie or two. So he gives their lives a medical meaning. That is: he extends the bounds of the biological, of whose oracles he is the interpreter, so as to make illness not just a bodily phenomenon but an organising principle for the effective administration of society itself: it is, for its adepts, a higher truth. His argument is life, for that is what a doctor defends. His tools are ideals, seduction, fright and—if necessary—the threat of violence.
Or perhaps, as Knock adds in an undertone, it’s just a big black spider sucking on her brain. Knock’s use of ‘big words’ to terrorise the Lady in Violet is one of the oldest medical tricks: think of 42 Molière’s cod Latin-spouting Sganarelle in the most famous predecessor farce le Médecin malgré lui (1666), or the nuciform sac, a structure unknown to any anatomy textbook but wielded to good effect by the surgeon Mr Cutler Walpole in George Bernard Shaw’s play The Doctor’s Dilemma (1906). The description of Walpole in Shaw’s stage-directions even resembles Jouvet’s portrayal of Knock in the film: his face, according to Shaw in his stage directions, looks ‘machine-made and beeswaxed; but his scrutinizing, daring eyes give it life and force.
Healy outlines how the regulatory response to the thalidomide disaster in the 1960s—in which thousands of infants were born with congenital defects after the German company Grünenthal marketed it as an overthe-counter remedy for nausea in pregnant women—gave rise to the ‘disease states’ that are now essential to secure FDA approval for any new medication. For years the pharmaceutical industry has been putting vast resources into gathering and disseminating information to influence treatment lobbies and the manner in which doctors prescribe.
A Doctor's Dictionary: Writings on Culture & Medicine by Iain Bamforth