Hello people. The Doctor is in.
This is a new blog devoted to the history of medicine. That’s a small subfield of history (or a small subfield of medicine, if you look at it that way) which looks at things like…what options for healthcare were available in the past?…how did people understand illness and disease and how did they go about treating it or dealing with it?…what was it like to be sick 50 years ago…100 years ago…500 years ago? In my blog, I’ll be mainly looking at the historical background to current events and developments in medicine. There’s not often a lot of space in news announcements for much history, and there’s certainly not much space in scientific journal articles that announce researchers’ findings to comment on them and evaluate how they might fit in as part of a bigger–and especially LONGER, that is 4-dimensional–picture. So that’s where this blog comes in: medicine in 4-D.
So, welcome to Dr Then’s medical history blog. (Not Dr Now..er No…no, Now. Not now. Then.)
And who is what I’d like to think of as the intelligence behind Dr Then? I am, in fact a Dr, but in the sense of PhD rather than MD. (But my name’s not Then – that’s a funny, folks.) If you’ve wandered onto this blog looking for health tips, hit that BACK button, because that’s not what’s going on here. If you ask me for health advice, I might prescribe bleeding, rhubarb, and a grain or two of arsenic – all good stuff, taken at the right historical moment (which isn’t now. No? Not now, Then. Oh dear, we’re back to that again.)
Anyhoo, as I was saying, I have a PhD in the History of Medicine from Harvard, and I graduated last year. I am a shiny, newly minted, clean-about-the-ears, fresh-as-a-daisy historian of modern medicine. I wrote my thesis on the history of childhood obesity in America, starting at about 1870 (who knew it had that long a history?) and coming up to the present day. (Hint: expect a fair few posts on that topic! What else did you think that dissertation was going to be used for? Mulching the vege patch?) I’m working on turning that thesis into a book – so TOPICAL! So NOW! So INTERESTING! – and hopefully pretty soon a publisher will agree that all those zippy adjectives apply and pick it up. Don’t worry about missing it at your local bookshop — I’ll be sure to let you know when it’s out.
So that’s a little taster of what you can expect when you drop into Dr Then’s clinic.