The golden years of medicine and its impact on our lifestyle

Our life as we know it would not be possible without the advances in medicine, the impact of which on our existence is total.

The German doctor and historian talks about this in his latest book. Ronald D Gerstewhich takes us to one of the most important periods in the history of medicine, revealing the scientific advances and ethical issues that marked the era of innovation and discovery.

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on the pages Healing the World: The Golden Age of Medicine, Gerste considers what happened between 1840 and 1914, when medicine had not yet reached the complexity and scope that we know today. The author takes us to a society of full scope, where doctors and scientists of different nationalities have applied their knowledge and efforts in the name of public health.

The book contains testimonies of these outstanding discoverers who left an invaluable legacy in the field of medicine. From the consolidation of anesthesia and Louis Pasteur’s revolutionary theory of germs and disease to advances in the treatment of tuberculosis and syphilis.

In this age of innovative and heretical ideas, science and knowledge flourished, and great minds such as John Snow, Florence Nightingale, Sigmund Freud, and Robert Koch left an indelible mark on medical diagnosis and treatment.

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Work is not only a meeting with these pioneers of medicine, but also a journey through a period of radical change. The advent of the railroad and the steamboat opened the horizon, globalizing the world like never before. Humanity has transcended its limits, and science has paved the way for a future full of possibilities.

However, the splendor of these impressive innovations was abruptly interrupted by two disastrous events. The First World War, with its crushing charge, destroyed lives and progress, casting a shadow over the triumphant era that preceded it. But the tragedy didn’t end there. The dreaded Spanish flu pandemic struck humanity, leaving a tragic epilogue to a story that seemed doomed to endless prosperity.

Today, as we face new challenges, it is necessary to look back and understand how the great deeds of that period have shaped our present. The lessons learned from that era of optimism and the fight against disease will forever remain in our society.

An interesting aspect that stands out in these pages is how the relationship between medicine and ethics is explored. Gerste raises interesting questions about the responsible use of certain substances and treatments. It also deals with an episode in which Freud and Koller experimented with cocaine, a substance considered at the time to be a powerful analgesic and stimulant.

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The book not only focuses on the great discoveries in the field of medicine, but also emphasizes the importance of public health and improved hygiene, which contributed to the reduction of infectious diseases and the increase in life expectancy of the population.

The research work behind it is extensive and detailed and backed by an extensive bibliography that can help us delve into certain topics.

Healing the World: The Golden Age of Medicine This is a book for any audience. Gerste’s pen is simple and engaging, and in his words he not only seeks to satisfy historical curiosity, but also invites us to think about the evolution of medicine and how the achievements of the past laid the foundations of modern medicine.

Despite adversity, humanity is persistently looking for a cure, healing and improvement of life. Perhaps in the memory of this golden age we will find inspiration to face the challenges of the present and build a future in which medicine and science continue to lead us to a better world.

♦ Born in 1957 in Magdeburg, Germany.

♦ He is a physician and historian.

♦ Works as a science correspondent in Washington DC and writes for Frankfurter Allgemeine ZeitungHe “New Zürcher Zeitung” And Die Zeitamong other means.

None of the many spectators who filled the rows of seats in the theater that morning had any serious hopes of witnessing a historic moment or the premiere of one of today’s most useful inventions. Gentlemen – since they were exclusively male, given the prevailing belief in the world of medicine that there was no place for women – wore long frock coats over a white shirt and waistcoat, with a modern stiff collar, carried canes as a sign of status and wore high top hats on their heads, which were removed when entering the auditorium, and also in order not to obstruct the spectacle of those behind them.

Physicians from Boston and medical students from nearby Harvard University gathered again on Friday morning to watch the great exponent of American surgery, sixty-eight-year-old John Collins Warren, perform one of his public surgeries for experts for educational purposes, perhaps also aiming for this voyeuristic horror. If the last row of the operating theater at Massachusetts General Hospital was full that day, it was also because a special spectacle was expected: word spread that the operation would likely be done without pain to the patient. However, the prospect of seeing yet another fraudulent charlatan who plagued medicine at that time, with their miracle cures and eccentricities exposed to ridicule, was thwarted in the following hours in the most pleasant and sensational way.

Letters, souvenirs and diaries left behind by the crowd of onlookers reflected their bewilderment and excitement at the spectacle they were present at, as well as their gratitude for having witnessed it. Where from time immemorial agony and pain, torment and despair reigned, silence and hope suddenly flared up. It was Friday, October 16, 1846. Since that day in Boston, people’s attitudes towards physical suffering have changed forever.

Warren entered the auditorium at about ten. Self-confident to the point of arrogance, cold to the point of cynicism, the famous surgeon announced in an impassive tone that some gentleman had indeed come to him “with an amazing request to relieve the pain of the operated patient.” No pain, what an audacity! As some other bystander must have done, Henry J. Bigelow, a very capable young Boston physician who would explain in great detail what happened that morning, let his mind wander over the history of medicine over the last three or four thousand years. Bigelow, the son of a family of doctors, knew that the family hadn’t really changed much since the first healers (if they deserved the name) in Mesopotamia, Africa, or pre-Columbian America used the scalpel. All interventions involved unimaginable pain for the unfortunates who had to endure them. Since ancient times, doctors have searched for remedies, tried plant extracts and alcohol-soaked sponges, as well as opium and the magnetization method created by the German Franz Anton Mesmer, a kind of suggestion: it was all in vain. As soon as the surgeon took the first step or the dentist took up the pliers, the cries of the martyrs carried through the infirmaries and hospitals. Pain seemed to be a fatal companion of medical operations.

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About Allen Whyte

I'm Allen Whyte, a writer for with 5 years of experience. I love bringing you the latest news and stories from around the world. Join me on this exciting journey as we explore the fascinating world we live in!

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