MEDICINE, HEALTH AND HEALING IN GERMANY, 1648-1820

Project: Research project

Project Details

Description

This study focuses on health, healing , and medicine in 17th and
18th Germany and will address four interrelated topics: 1) the role
of government in formulating and executing health policies, 2)
programs of medical enlightenment and popular medical
enlightenment, 3) the role of medicine and healers (both popular
and orthodox) in an early modern environment, and 4) ordinary
persons' perceptions about the body, illness, and health. This
study simultaneously addresses concerns in the history of medicine,
in social history, and, especially, in the history of mentalities
and attitudes. Historians have recently been exploring mentalities
in past times in great depth, here, for example, in regard to
vioews on health, medicine, and medical care. It appears that the
area and period under consideration (northern Germany, 1648-1820)
fit into a critical transition phase between the pre-modern and
modern worlds and mentalities (i.e. ways of perceiving and
interpreting one's physical and mental surroundings). This study
should help elucidate how the shift from one world-view to another
took place. This focus on mentalities, however, is locked into a
precise description and analysis of the directions health policies
and medicine were taking in the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries. Ith should be stressed, however, that although these
sorts of institutional and intellectual frameworks are critically
important to this study, they are not its focus. Specifically, it
will be argued that the state's policy of rationalizing medical
practice in this period was only imperfectly realized and indeed,
and perhaps more importantly,lk was far less rigidly formulated
than has generally been assumed. Second, it will be maintained
that the program of popular medical enlightenment pursued
ultimately had little impact on entrenched popular attitudes toward
health and healing practices and little impact on entrenched
popular attitude toward health and healing practices and little
effect on the medical mentalities that informed them. Third, this
investigation will examine and map out a series of pre-modern
attitudes toward health and healing and suggest ways in which these
attitudes changed. Finally, it will be argued that the basis for
medical decision making did not rest on purely medical criteria,
but was found in a web of social, economic, and political
considrerations.
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date5/1/9010/31/91

Funding

  • U.S. National Library of Medicine

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