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The birth of the clinic


, : The birth of the clinic. Tidsskrift for den Norske Laegeforening 113(29): 3575-3577

Modern medicine is rooted in the science and the clinical practice of the 18th and 19th century. Here it finds its aims and methods, its view of life and death, and of health and disease. The french philosopher Michel Foucault has made an original contribution to the understanding of the social and cultural aspects of the development of medicine. He seeks its foundation in the classificatory medicine of the nosology of the 18th century. The diseases were then organized in a botanical model by their essence. The doctor revealed and confirmed the natural development of the diseases. He practised an art of medicine founded on local conditions. Following the social and political demands for regulation in the 18th century, the first grand hospitals were built. Here the doctors had the opportunity to study a large number of patients, and the statistical methods led to a bloom of clinical medicine. However, before medical science was able to use the microscope, before it could find the solution to life and disease in the obduced body, much had to change. Man had to alter his view of life and death, of subject and object, of doctor and patient. Only then was it possible to carry out pathological anatomy. Michel Foucault has presented a view of the history of medicine which counterbalances deterministic management of the Asclepian heritage by science.

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