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Old 06-24-2017, 09:31 PM
JWT Kottekoe JWT Kottekoe is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: California
Posts: 929
Lewis Thomas talks about this in one of his books of essays, perhaps The Lives of a Cell. His father was a physician around 1900. His primary occupation was making house calls and, as an earlier poster remarked, his job was primarily to provide authoritative moral support to the patient and family. A good doctor was an excellent diagnostician, who could help his patients understand the nature of their illness and the prognosis. He could counsel them on simple remedies, like bed rest and therapeutic heat and cold. There were a variety of medications he might prescribe, but few, if any, provided more than a placebo effect. Thomas mentioned the smallpox vaccine as an extreme outlier, out of place with the other ineffective items in the physician's arsenal.

Thomas's books are wonderful. I read several about 40 years ago and the memory of their content has faded, but I clearly remember how much I liked them.