I have simply collected the words of authoritative philosophers and scientists as well as the opinions of practical men, and having collected them together have written them all down in one little summary: so that poor and unlearned men who do not possess a plenty of books at hand may here be able to find. John Mirfield, "Breviarum Bartholomei" (ca 1400)
Click one of the letters above to advance the page to terms beginning with that letter.
Abernathy, John (on the risks of practicing medicine)
There is no short cut, nor “royal road,” to the attainment of medical knowledge. The path we have to pursue is long, difficult, and unsafe. In our progress, we must frequently take up our abode with death and corruption; we must adopt loathsome diseases for our familiar associates, or we shall never be thoroughly acquainted with their nature and dispositions; we must risk, nay even injure, our own health in order to be able to preserve or restore that of others.
Adams, Samuel Hopkins (on medications)
Ignorance and credulous hope make the market for most proprietary remedies.
Addison, Joseph (a criticism of physicians)
If we look into the profession of physic, we shall find a most formidable body of men. The sight of them is enough to make a man serious, for we may lay it down as a maxim, that when a nation abounds in physicians it grows thin of people.
Addison, Thomas (on the stethoscope)
Were I to affirm that Laënnec contributed more towards the advancement of the medical art than any other single individual, either of ancient or of modern times, I should probably be advancing a proposition which, in the estimation of many, is neither extravagant nor unjust.
Aetius (the early use of magnetism)
We are assured that those who are troubled with the gout in their hands or their feet, or with convulsions, find relief when they hold a magnet in their hand.
Alexander the Great (a criticism of physicians)
(on his death bed) I die by the help of too many physicians.
THREE FINAL WISHES:
- I want the best doctors to carry my coffin to demonstrate that in the face of death, even the best doctors in the world have no power to heal.
- I want the road to be covered with my treasure so that everybody sees that material wealth acquired on earth, will stay on earth.
- I want my hands to swing in the wind, so that people understand that we come to this world empty handed and we leave this world empty handed after the most precious treasure of all is exhausted, and that is time. We do not take to our grave any material wealth. Time is our most precious treasure because it is limited. We can produce more wealth, but we cannot produce more time.
Ali, Muhammad (life advice)
- I'm so mean, I make medicine sick.
- If they can make medicine out of moldy bread, they can sure make something out of you.
- I don't count the sit-ups. I only start counting when it starts hurting because they're the only ones that count. That's what makes you a champion. The will must be stronger than the skill.
- It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe.
- Don't count the days; make the days count.
- A man who views the world the same at 50 has wasted 30 years of his life.
- A man who has no imagination has no wings.
- It doesn't matter which color does the hating, it's just plain wrong.
- Live every day as if it were your last because some day you're going to be right.
Allbutt, Clifford (on Lister, and on observation)
- Lister saw the vast importance of the discoveries of Pasteur. He saw it because he was watching on the heights, and he was watching there alone.
- Another source of fallacy is the vicious circle of illusions which consists on the one hand of believing what we see, and on the other in seeing what we believe.
Anderson, Hans Christian (on observation)
The emperor has no clothes.
Andry, Nicholas (on infectious disease)
We must admit that there are animals a thousand times less than a grain of dust, which we can scarcely see. . .Our imagination loses itself in this thought, it is amazed at such a strange littleness; but to what purpose should it deny it? Reason convinces us of the existence of that which we cannot conceive.
AN INTERNIST is someone who knows everything and does nothing.
A SURGEON is someone who knows nothing and does everything.
A PSYCHIATRIST is someone who knows nothing and does nothing.
A PATHOLOGIST is someone who knows everything and does everything -- too late.
A SHORT HISTORY OF MEDICAL THERAPY:
2000 BC: Here, eat this root.
1000 BC: That root is heathen, say this prayer.
1850: Prayer is superstitious, drink this potion.
1930: That potion is snake oil, swallow this pill.
1970: That pill is ineffective, take this antibiotic.
2000: That antibiotic is artificial, eat this root.
ARAB: Have faith though it be only in a stone, and you will recover.
CHINESE: The superior doctor prevents sickness; The mediocre doctor attends to impending sickness; The inferior doctor treats actual sickness. It is easy to get a thousand prescriptions but hard to get one single remedy.
CROATIAN: All mushrooms are edible, but some only once.
ITALIAN: After the game, the King and the pawn go into the same box.
SCOTTISH: If the doctor cures, the sun sees it, but if he kills the earth hides it.
SPANISH: Fond of lawyer, little wealth; fond of doctor, little health.
WELSH: Heaven defend me from a busy doctor.
- The treatment of syphilis with mercury: a night with Venus and a lifetime with Mercury.
- A medical paper should be like a lady’s dress – short enough to be interesting but long enough to cover the subject.
- Medical statistics are like a bikini bathing suit: what they reveal is interesting; what they conceal is vital.
- Speeches are like babies – easy to conceive but hard to deliver.
- Five times as many ambitious women take to medicine as to law. This contradicts that generally received idea of the sex that they delight in scandals and quarrels, but abhor cruelty and killing.
- Sometimes you are the dog and sometimes you are the tree.
- Nowadays there is a pill for everything—to keep your nose from running, to keep you regular, to keep your heart beating, to keep your hair from falling out, to improve your muscle tone ... Why thanks to advances in medical science each day people are dying who never looked better.
- SPECIALISTS' REACTIONS to new Federal reimbursement plans: Allergists: Voted to scratch them all. Dermatologists: Advised the government not to make any rash moves. Gastroenterologists: With an uncomfortable gut feeling about the recommendations had trouble swallowing the proposals and then finally couldn't stomach them. Neurologists: Thought the Feds had a lot of nerve. Obstetricians: Felt they were laboring under a misconception. Ophthalmologists: Considered all the ideas very short-sighted. Pathologists: Yelled, "Over my dead body!" Pediatricians: Have very little patients and would only say "Oh, grow up!" Psychiatrists: Thought the plans were madness. Radiologists: Could see right through them. Surgeons: Were fed up with the cuts and decided to wash their hands of the whole thing. ENT specialists: Smelled something fishy and just wouldn't hear of it. Pharmacologists: Thought they were a bitter pill to swallow, Plastic Surgeons: Said, "This puts a whole new face on the matter." Podiatrists: Considered the proposed rates to be a step forward. Urologists: Concluded they wouldn't hold water and were pissed off at the whole thing. Anesthesiologists: Thought the ideas were a gas. Cardiologists: Didn't have the heart to say no. Proctologists: In the end left the entire decision up to the assholes in Washington.
DIABETES: Greek for “I pass through.” Romans added “mellitus” meaning sweet.
DICTIONARY: A malevolent literary device for cramping the growth of a language and making it hard and inelastic. THIS dictionary, however, is a most useful work.
DRUG: That substance which, when injected into a rat will produce a scientific report.
GOUT: A physician’s name for the rheumatism of a rich patient.
GRAVE: A place in which the dead are laid to await the coming of the medical student.
HAND: A singular instrument worn at the end of a human arm and commonly thrust into somebody’s pocket.
MESMERISM: Hypnotism before it wore good clothes, kept a carriage, and asked incredulity to dinner.
SHINBONE: a device for finding furniture in a dark room.
The true meaning of life: Feed and Breed.
Archimatthaeus (on physical examination, and physician behavior)
The fingers should be kept on the pulse at least until the hundredth beat in order to judge of its kind and character; the friends standing round will be all the more impressed because of the delay, and the physician’s words will be received with just that much more attention.
Upon entering the house of his patient, the physician should salute all with a grave and modest air, not exhibiting any eagerness, but seating himself to take breath, he should praise the beauty of the situation, the good arrangements of the house, the generosity of the family; by this means he wins the good opinion of the household, and gives the sick person time to recover himself a little...If he recovers, your reputation is increased; if he succumbs, people will not fail to remember that you foresaw the fatal termination of the disease.
Aretaeus of Cappadocia (a classic description of diabetes)
Diabetes is a strange affection, not very frequent among men, being a melting down of the flesh and limbs into urine. Its cause is of a cold and humid nature, as in dropsy. The course is the common one, namely the kidneys and bladder; for the patients never stop making water, but the flow is incessant, as if from the opening of aqueducts. The nature of the disease, then, is chronic, and it takes a long period to form; but the patient is short-lived, if the constitution of the disease be completely established; for the melting is rapid, the death speedy. Moreover, life is disgusting and painful; thirst unquenchable; excessive drinking, which, however, is disproportionate to the large quantity of urine, for more urine is passed; and one cannot stop them either from drinking or from making water. Or if for a time they abstain from drinking, their mouth becomes parched and their body dry; the viscera seem as if scorched up; they are affected with nausea, restlessness, and a burning thirst; and at no distant term they expire.
Armstrong, John (a criticism of physicians)
Many more Englishmen die by the lancet at home, than by the sword abroad.
Ashurst, John (on anesthesia)
Surgeons went on in every country cutting and burning, and patients went on writhing and screaming, until on the 16th day of October, 1846, when surgical anesthesia became the priceless heritage of the civilized world.
Auenbrugger, Leopold (the discoverer of percussion)
I here present to the Reader with a new sign which I have discovered for detecting diseases of the chest. This consists in the percussion of the human thorax, whereby, according to the character of the particular sounds thence elicited, an opinion is formed of the internal state of that cavity. In making public my discoveries respecting this matter, I have been actuated neither by an itch for writing, nor a fondness for speculation, but by the desire of submitting to my brethren the fruits of seven years’ observation and reflection. In doing so, I have not been unconscious of the dangers I must encounter since it has always been the fate of those who have illustrated or improved the arts and sciences by their discoveries to be beset by envy, malice, hatred, detraction, and calumny.
Aurelius, Marcus (advice from a Roman emperor)
Our life is what our thoughts make it.
When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive - to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.
Avicenna (an early description of measles)
The physical signs of measles are nearly the same as those of smallpox, but nausea and inflammation is more severe, though the pains in the back are less. The rash of measles usually appears at once, but the rash of smallpox spot after spot.
Azinger, Paul (on golf and on most things in life)
Golf can be simple, but it's never easy.
Bacon, Francis (on patients)
The weakness of patients, and sweetness of life, and nature of hope, maketh men depend upon physicians with all their defects.
Bacon, John (on getting along day to day)
It's a living.
Bard, Samuel (on pathologic investigation)
Whenever you shall be so unhappy as to fail, in your Endeavors to relieve; let it be your constant Aim to convert particular Misfortunes into general Blessings, by carefully inspecting the Bodies of the Dead, inquiring into the Causes of their Diseases, and thence improving your own Knowledge and making further and useful Discoveries in the healing Art.
Barnard, Christiaan (on medical progress)
I don't believe medical discoveries are doing much to advance human life. As fast as we create ways to extend it we are inventing ways to shorten it.
Bartlett, Elisha (on Benjamin Rush, and independent observation)
- It may be safely said, I think, that in the whole vast compass of medical literature, there cannot be found an equal number of pages, containing a greater amount and variety of utter nonsense and unqualified absurdity, -- a more heterogenous and ill-adjusted an assemblage, not merely of unsupported, but of unintelligible and preposterous assertions, than are embodied in his exposition of this theory. His speculative doctrines in regard to the nature of disease indisposed him to a careful and discriminating study of its phenomena and relationships, and in a great degree disqualified him for such study. They obscured his perceptions, and clouded his judgement. Worse than this, his false philosophy of disease was suffered to influence his practice, rendering this, also, more exclusive and faulty, than it would otherwise have been.
- The restless and inquisitive mind, from its very constitution insatiable, and ever unsatisfied with its actual and absolute possessions, endeavors to imagine the phenomena, which it cannot demonstrate; it struggles to overleap the boundary, whose inexorable circumference cages it in; and, failing to do this, it fills the infinite and unknown regions, beyond and without it, with its own creations.
Barton, Clara (Civil War nurse)
- I may be compelled to face danger, but never fear it, and while our soldiers can stand and fight, I can stand and feed and nurse them.
- I may sometimes be willing to teach for nothing, but if paid at all, I shall never do a man's work for less than a man's pay.
- It is wise statesmanship which suggests that in time of peace we must prepare for war, and it is no less a wise benevolence that makes preparation in the hour of peace for assuaging the ills that are sure to accompany war.
- I have an almost complete disregard of precedent and a faith in the possibility of something better. It irritates me to be told how things always have been done....I defy the tyranny of precedent. I cannot afford the luxury of a closed mind. I go for anything new that might improve the past.
Bashkirtsev, Marie (with tuberculosis)
I cough continually! But for a wonder, far from making me look ugly, this gives me an air of languor that is very becoming.
Baybare, Edward (on early therapy)
For in ten words the whole Art is comprised; First some of the ten are always advised.
Piss, Spew, and Spit,
Perspiration and Sweat;
Purge, Bleed, and Blister,
Issues and Clyster…
Most other specifics
Have no visible effects,
But the getting of fees,
For a promise of ease.
Bean, William (criticizing Benjamin Rush)
The heroic aspects of Benjamin Rush, his many ideas about mental health, his signing of the Declaration of Independence, have made us forget the harm he did. His willingness to follow the guttering candle of ignorance, his dogmatic conviction that he was right, his consummate ability to fool himself consistently helped to kill an unmeasured plenty of his patients in Philadelphia. That his motives were pure and serene constitutes another example of the unlimited capacity of man to fool himself. Only the genius or unsung hero can make an intellectual judgement when his feelings, emotions and beliefs are engaged.
Beethoven, Ludwig von (on his being deaf)
Had I not read somewhere that a man ought not of his own free will take away his life so long as he could still perform a good action, I should long ago have been dead – and, indeed, by my own hand.
Bell, Charles (surgery at the Battle of Waterloo)
It is impossible to convey to you the picture of human misery continually before my eye…While I amputated one man’s thigh, there lay at one time thirteen, all beseeching to be taken next…It was a strange thing to feel my clothes stiff with blood, and my arms powerless with the exertion of using the knife!
Bell, Joseph (on observation from the model for Sherlock Holmes)
The precise and intelligent recognition and appreciation of minor differences is the real essential factor in all successful medical diagnosis…Eyes and ears which can see and hear, memory to record at once and to recall at pleasure the impressions of the senses, and an imagination capable of weaving a theory or piecing together a broken chain or unraveling a tangled clue, such are the implements of his trade to a successful diagnostician.
Bennett, John (on Lister’s work in infectious disease)
Where are these little beasties? Show them to us and we shall believe in them. Has anyone seen them yet?
Berlioz, Hector (anatomy)
When I entered that fearful human charnel-house, littered with fragments of limbs, and saw the ghastly faces and cloven heads, the bloody cesspool in which we stood, with its reeking atmosphere, the swarms of sparrows fighting for scraps, and the rats in the corners gnawing bleeding vertebrae, such a feeling of horror possessed me that I leapt out of the window, and fled home as though Death and all his hideous crew were at my heels. It was twenty-four hours before I recovered from the shock of this first impression, utterly refusing to hear that words anatomy, dissection, or medicine, and firmly resolved to die rather than enter the career which had been forced upon me.
Bernard, Claude (a pioneer in medical research)
- Men who have excessive faith in their theories or ideas are not only ill prepared for making discoveries; they also make very poor observations.
- But man's intellectual conquest consists in lessening and driving back indeterminism in proportion as he gains ground for determinism by the help of the experimental method.
- Comparative experiment is the sine qua non of scientific experimental medicine; without it a physician walks at random and becomes the plaything of endless illusions. A physician, who tries a remedy and cures his patients, is inclined to believe that the cure is due to his treatment. But the first thing to ask them is whether they have tried doing nothing, i.e., not treating other patients; for how can they otherwise know whether the remedy or nature cured them?
- Among the experiments that may be tried on man, those that can only harm are forbidden, those that are innocent are permissible, and those that may do good are obligatory.
- When a physician is called to a patient, he should decide on the diagnosis, then the prognosis, then the treatment...Physicians must know the evolution of the disease, its duration and gravity in order to predict its course and outcome. Here statistics intervene to guide physicians, by teaching them the proportion of mortal cases; and if observation has also shown that the successful and unsuccessful cases can be recognized by certain signs, then the prognosis is more certain.
Berra, Yogi (a few of his classics)
- You can observe a lot by just watching.
- If you ask me anything I don't know I'm not going to answer.
- The towels were so thick there I could hardly close my suitcase.
- You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I'm not hungry enough to eat six.
- Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours.
- It ain’t over till it’s over.
- The future ain’t what it used to be.
Best, George (Irish footballer who died of complications from a liver transplant)
I spent a lot of money on booze, birds, and fast cars. The rest I just squandered.
I used to go missing a lot...Miss Canada, Miss United Kingdom, Miss World.
In 1969 I gave up women and alcohol - it was the worst 20 minutes of my life.
Bible (regarding medicine)
James 5, 5:15
The prayer of faith shall save the sick.
Honour a physician with the honour due unto him for the uses which ye may have of him: for the Lord hath created him.
For the most High cometh healing, and he shall receive honour of the King.
The skill of the physician shall lift up his head; and in the sight of great men he shall be in admiration.
Bichat, Xavier (on contemporary medicine)
Medicine is an incoherent assemblage of incoherent ideas, and is, perhaps, of all the physiological Sciences, that which best shows the caprice of the human mind. What did I say! It is not a Science for a methodical mind. It is a shapeless assemblage of inaccurate ideas, of observations often puerile, of deceptive remedies, and of formulae as fantastically conceived as they are tediously arranged.
Bierce, Ambrose (“The Devils Dictionary,” 1906)
- APOTHECARY: The physician’s accomplice, undertaker’s benefactor, and grave worm’s provider.
- BELLADONNA: In Italian a beautiful lady; in English a deadly poison. A striking example of the essential identity of the two tongues.
- BODY-SNATCHER: A robber of grave-worms. One who supplies the young physicians with that which the old physicians have supplied the undertaker.
- DENTIST: A prestidigitator who, putting metal in your mouth, pulls coins out of your pocket.
- MIND: A mysterious form of matter secreted by the brain. Its chief activity consists in the endeavor to ascertain its own nature, the futility of the attempt being due to the fact that it has nothing but itself to know itself with.
- MOUTH: In man, the gateway to the soul; in woman, the outlet of the heart.
- PAIN: An uncomfortable frame of mind that may have a physical basis in something that is being done to the body, or may be purely mental caused by the good fortune of another.
- PHRENOLOGY: The science of picking the pocket through the scalp.
- PHYSICIAN: One upon whom we set our hopes when ill and our dogs when well.
- PHYSIOGNOMY: The art of determining the character of another by the resemblances and differences between his face and our own, which is the standard of excellence.
- PRESCRIPTION: A physician’s guess at what will best prolong the situation with least harm to the patient.
Blackwell, Elizabeth (the first female physician on sanitation and on sex)
To her (Florence Nightingale) chiefly I owed the awakening to the fact that sanitation is the supreme goal of medicine its foundation and its crown.
…in healthy loving women…increasing physical satisfaction attaches to the ultimate physical expression of love. A repose and general well-being results from this natural occasional intercourse, while the total deprivation of it produces irritability.
Bonaparte, Napoleon (a criticism of medications)
Medicine is a collection of uncertain prescriptions which kill the poor, and succeed sometimes with the rich; and the results of which, collectively taken, are more fatal than useful to mankind. Speak to me no more about these fine things; I am not a man for drugs.
Boren, James (on physician payment)
I got the bill for my surgery. Now I know what those doctors were wearing masks for.
Bridges, JH (an appreciation of William Harvey)
In his discovery William Harvey employed every method of biological research, direct observation, experiment, above all the great Aristotelian method of comparison to which he himself attributes his success. His manuscript notes show how freely he used it…It was assuredly the most momentous event in medical history since the time of Galen. It was the first attempt to show that the process of the human body followed or accompanied each other by laws as certain and precise as those which Kepler and Galileo were revealing in the solar system or on the earth's surface. Henceforth it became clear that all laws of force and energy that operated in the inorganic world were applicable to the human body.
Bright, Richard (a classic on renal disease)
I have often found the dropsy connected with the secretion of albuminous urine, more or less coagulable on the application of heat...I have never yet examined the body of a patient dying with dropsy attended with coagulable urine, in whom some obvious derangement was not discovered in the kidneys...During some part of the progress of these cases of anasarca, I have...found a great tendency to throw off the red particles of the blood by the kidneys, betrayed by various degrees of haematuria.
Broome, William (a criticism of physicians)
Though patients die the doctor’s paid:
Licens’d to kill, he gains a palace
For what another mounts the gallows.
Bryce, James (on medicine)
Medicine (is) the only profession that labours incessantly to destroy the reason for its own existence.
Buchan, William (on leeches, the placebo effect)
I have been accustomed for some time past, to apply leeches to the inflamed testicle, which practice has always been followed with most happy effects.
As matters stand at present, it is easier to cheat a man out of his life than a shilling, and almost impossible to either detect or punish the offender. Notwithstanding this, people still shut their eyes, and take everything upon trust that is administered by any Pretender to Medicine, without daring to ask him a reason for any part of his conduct. Implicit faith, everywhere else the object of ridicule, is still sacred here.
Budd, William (on typhoid fever)
No one can know what these figures really imply who has not had experience of this disorder in his own home. The dreary and painful night-watches, the unusual length of the period over which the anxiety is protracted, the long suspense between hope and fear, and the large proportion of cases in which hope is disappointed...make up a sum of distress...scarcely to be found again in the history of any other acute disorder.
Buling, Hans (a Dutch broadside)
SEE SIRS, SEE HERE!
A Doctor rare,
who travels much at home!
Here take my Bills,
I cure all ills,
past, present and to come;
The Cramp, the Stitch,
The Squirt, the Itch,
The Gout, the Stone the Pox;
The Bonny Scrubs,
And all Pandora’s box.
Thousands I’ve dissected,
Thousands new erected, (cure for impotence)
And such Cures effected
as none e’er can tell
Let the Palsie shake ye,
Let the Chollick rack ye
Let the Crinkums break ye, (venereal disease)
Let the Murrain take you; (plague)
take this and you are well.
Come wits so keen,
Devour'd with Spleen;
come Beaus who sprain'd you,
Great Bell'd Maids, (pregnant)
Old Founder'd Jades,
and Pepper'd Vizard Cracks. (pockey-faced whores)
I soon remove,
The Pains of Love,
and cure the Love-Sick Maid;
The Hot, the Cold,
The Young, the Old,
the Living, and the Dead.
I clear the Lass,
With Wainscot Face, (face hardened like wainscot)
and from Pimginets free; (pimples)
Plump Ladies Red,
Like Saracen's Head,
with Toaping Rattafia. (cherry brandy)
This with a Firk, (kick)
will do your Work,
and Scour you o're and o're,
Read, Judge and Try,
And if you Die,
never believe me more.
Bullein, William (regarding the surgeon, the apothecary)
He must begin first in youth with good learning and exercise in thys noble arte, he also must be clenly, nimble handed, sharpe sighted, pregnant witted, bolde spirited, clenly apparailed, piteful harted, but not womanly affectionated to wepe or trimble, when he seeth broken bones or bloodies woundes, neither muste he geve place to the cries of his sore patiente, for soft chyrurgians maketh fowle sores. Of the other syde, he maie not plaie the partes of a butcher to cutte, rende or teare the bodie mannekynde. For although it be fraile, sore and weake, yet it is the pleasure of God, to cal it his Temple, his instrument, and dwelying place.
The apothecary must first serve God; forsee the end, bee cleanly and pity the poor. His place of dwelling and shop must be cleanly, to please the senses withal. His garden must be at hand with plenty of herbs, seeds, and roots. He must read Dioscorides. He must have his mortars, stills, pots, filters, glasses, boxes, clean and sweet. He must have two places in his shop, one most clean for physic and the base place for chirurgic stuff. He is neither to decrease nor diminish the physician’s prescriptions. He is neither to buy nor sell rotten drugs. He must be able to open well a vein, for to help pleurisy. He is to meddle only in his own vocation and to remember that his office is only to be the physician’s cook.
Bush, Barbara (life advice)
At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child, or a parent.
Cajal, Santiago Ramón y (a criticism of physicians)
Of all men, physicians and playwrights alone possess the rare privilege of charging money for the pain they inflict on us.
Carey, Mathew (on yellow fever)
Many never walked on the foot path, but went into the middle of the streets, to avoid being infected in passing by houses wherein people had died. Acquaintances and friends avoided each other in the streets, and only signified their regard by a cold nod. The old custom of shaking hands fell into such general disuse, that many were affronted at even the offer of the hand.
Carradine, David (life advice)
If you can’t be a poet, be the poem.
Castle, Johnny (life advice from “Dirty Dancing”)
The steps aren't enough; feel the music.
Cathell, Daniel (on dealing with patients)
Working with the microscope and making analyses of the urine, sputum, blood, and other fluids as an aid to diagnosis, will not only bring fees and lead to valuable information regarding your patient’s condition, but will also give you reputation and professional respect, by investing you, in the eyes of the public, with the benefits of being a very scientific man… By employing the terms ac. phenicum for carbolic acid, secale cornutum for ergot, kalium for potassium, natrum for sodium, chinin for quinine, etc., you will debar the average patient from reading your prescriptions.
Celsus (on surgeons, dissection, and bleeding)
- Now a surgeon must be youthful or at any rate nearer youth than age; with a strong and steady hand which never trembles, and ready to use the left hand as well as the right; with vision sharp and clear, and spirit undaunted; filled with pity, so that he wishes to cure his patient, yet is not moved by his cries, to go too fast, or cut less than is necessary; but he does everything just as if the cries of pain cause him no emotion.
- It is both cruel and superfluous to dissect the bodies of the living, but to dissect those of the dead is necessary for learners, for they ought to know the position and order, which dead bodies show better than a living and wounded man. But even the other things, which can only be observed in the living, practice itself will show in the cures of the wounded, a little more slowly, but somewhat more tenderly.
- It is not a new thing to let blood from the veins, but it is new that there is scarcely any malady in which blood is not drawn. Formerly they bled young men, and women who were not pregnant, but it had not been seen till our days that children, pregnant women, and old men were bled.
Cervantes, Miguel de (criticism of physicians from Don Quixote)
Other Doctors kill their Patients, and are paid for it too and yet they are at no farther Trouble than scrawling two or three cramp Words for some physical Slip-slop, which the ’Pothecaries are at all Pains to make up.
Charcot, Jean Martin (on observation)
In the last analysis, we see only what we are ready to see, what we have been taught to see. We eliminate and ignore everything that is not a part of our prejudices.
Chekhov, Anton (on medicine and literature)
Doctors are just the same as lawyers; the only difference is that lawyers merely rob you, whereas doctors rob you and kill you too.
I have two professions and not one. Medicine is my lawful wife and literature my mistress. When I get tired of one I spend the night with the other. Though it’s disorderly, it’s not so dull, and besides neither of them loses anything from my infidelity. If I did not have my medical work I doubt if I could have given my leisure and my spare thoughts to literature.
Churchill, Sir Winston (life advice)
- It’s a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations.
- Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.
- Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.
- A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
- The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.
- The whole history of the world is summed up in the fact that when nations are strong they are not always just, and when they wish to be just they are often no longer strong.
- The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.
- We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.
- Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement; then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, and then a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster, and fling him out to the public.
Confucius (older therapies)
Because the newer methods of treatment are good, it does not follow that the old ones were bad: for if our honorable and worshipful ancestors had not recovered from their ailments, you and I would not be here to-day.
Connolly, Cyril (on individuality)
Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.
Cooper, Astley Paston (on medical knowledge, and medications)
Nothing is known in our profession by guess; and I do not believe, that from the first dawn of medical science to the present moment, a single correct idea has ever emanated from conjecture: it is right therefore, that those who are studying their profession should be aware that there is no short road to knowledge; and that observations on the diseased living, examination of the dead, and experiments upon living animals, are the only sources of true knowledge; and that inductions from these are the sole bases of legitimate theory.
If you are too fond of new remedies, first you will not cure your patients; secondly, you will have no patients to cure.
Cooper, Samuel (on amputation)
The very idea of this formidable operation, for a long while, checked the hand even in the most ready advocate for the use of the amputation knife, and every mind shuddered at so extensive a mutilation. Still, it could not be denied that the chance of saving life occasionally depended on a submission to the greatest temporary suffering, and that without the most cruel of sacrifices, the preservation of the patient was totally possible.
Cordus, Euricus (a criticism of physicians)
Three faces wears the doctor: when first sought, An angel's – and a God's, the cure half wrought; But, when that cure complete, he seeks his fee, The Devil looks then less terrible than he.
Corelli, Marie (a physician’s conservative therapy)
Dr. R, of great repute in nervous ailments, attended me for many weeks, with but slight success. He was not to blame, poor man, for his failure to effect a cure. He had only one way of treatment, and he applied it to all his patients with more or less happy results. Some died, some recovered; it was a lottery on which my medical friend staked his reputation, and won. The patients who died were never heard of more—those who recovered sang the praises of their physician everywhere, and sent him gifts of silver plate and hampers of wine, to testify their gratitude.
Crumplin, Michael (a man’s amputation)
Joseph Bonheur had his right thigh taken off by a cannon shot close to the pelvis, so that it was impossible to apply a tourniquet; his right arm was also shot to pieces. The stump of the thigh, which was very fleshy, presented a dreadful and large surface of mangled flesh. In this state he lived nearly two hours, perfectly sensible and incessantly calling out in a strong voice to me to assist him. The bleeding from the femoral artery, although so high up, must have been very inconsiderable, and I observed it did not bleed as he lay. All the service I could render this unfortunate man was to put the dressing over the part and give him drink.
Da Costa, Chalmers (on medical students, and surgeons)
What will become of the students? We all know in a general way. All will die sooner or later. All will get more or less happiness and prosperity. Some will become rich. Most will continue poor. Some will remain bachelors. Most will marry and breed children for good or ill. Most will cleave to the profession for life…A very few will become eminent, but a majority will not. Some will rise as the soaring eagle, others will mount as the mousing owl. Some will snatch at comets and grasp them. Others will only pick up jelly fish and be stung for their pains. Some will set traps for birds of paradise and catch skunks. Some will dwell upon the muck heap. Others will move among the constellations of profundity, drinking in as mother’s milk the glory of the stars.
A fashionable surgeon, like a pelican, can be recognized by the size of his bill.
Dangerfield, Rodney (no respect)
- My mother had morning sickness after I was born.
- I get no respect. The time I was lost at the beach and a cop helped me look for my parents. I said to the cop, do you think we'll find them? He said I don't know kid, there's so many places they could hide.
- The time I was kidnapped they sent back a piece of my finger. My father said he needed more proof.
- My wife and I were happy for twenty years. And then we met.
- In my house we pray after we eat.
- I told my wife the truth. I told her I was seeing a psychiatrist. Then she told me the truth: that she was seeing a psychiatrist, two plumbers, and a bartender.
- My psychiatrist said my wife and I should have sex every night. Now we'll never see each other.
- I know I'm getting old. At my age I want two girls at once. If I fall asleep they have each other to talk to.
- I told my dentist my teeth are going yellow. He told me to wear a brown tie.
- I have the perfect second car -- a tow truck.
- I told my psychiatrist that everyone hates me. He said I was being ridiculous - everyone hasn't met me yet.
- For the first time I told my psychiatrist that I had suicidal tendencies. He told me that from now on I have to pay in advance.
Darwin, Charles (on false facts and conclusions)
False facts are highly injurious to the progress of science, for they often long endure; but false views, if supported by some evidence, do little harm, as every one takes a salutary pleasure in proving their falseness.
Davy, Humphrey (on his anesthesia)
On the day when the inflammation was most troublesome, I breathed three large doses of nitrous oxide. The pain always diminished after the first four or five inspirations, the thrilling came on as usual, and uneasiness was for a few minutes, swallowed up in the pleasure. As the former state of mind however returned, the state of organ returned with it; and I once imagined that the pain was more severe after the experiment than before.
Descartes, René (placebo effect)
Even the mind depends so much on temperament and the disposition of one's bodily organs that, if it is possible to find a way to make people generally more wise and more skillful than they have been in the past, I believe that we should look for it in medicine. It is true that medicine as it is currently practiced contains little of much use.
Diamond, John (on cancer)
Cancer is a word, not a sentence.
Dickens, Charles (on physicians, and on tuberculosis)
- His neckerchief and shirt-frill were ever of the whitest; his clothes were of the blackest and sleekest; his gold watch chain of the heaviest and his seals of the largest. His boots, which were always of the brightest, creaked as he walked…and he had a peculiar way of smacking his lips and saying ‘Ah’ at intervals while patients detailed their symptoms, which inspired great confidence.
- To surround anything, however monstrous or ridiculous, with an air of mystery, is to invest it with a secret charm, and power of attraction which to the crowd is irresistible. False priests, false prophets, false doctors, false patriots, false prodigies of every kind, veiling their proceedings in mystery, have always addressed themselves at an immense advantage to the popular credulity…
- There is a dread disease which so prepares its victim, as it were, for death; which so refines it of its grosser aspect, and throws around familiar looks, unearthly indications of the coming change – a dread disease, in which the struggle between soul and body is so gradual, quiet, and solemn, and the result so sure, that day by day, and grain by grain, the mortal part wastes and withers away, so that the spirit grows light and sanguine with its lightening load, and, feeling immortality at hand, deems it but a new term of mortal life – a disease in which death and life are so strangely blended, that death takes the glow and hue of life, and life the gaunt and grisly form of death – a disease which medicine never cured, wealth warded off, or poverty could boast exemption from – which sometimes moves in giant strides, and sometimes at a tardy sluggish pace, but, slow or quick, is ever sure and certain.
Diderot, Denis Diderot (a criticism of physicians)
Doctors are always working to preserve our health and cooks to destroy it, but the latter are the more often successful.
Dillon, Marshall Matt (life advice from “Gunsmoke”)
The only way to get it over is to get it started.
Diller, Phyllis (on parenting and getting old)
- We spend the first twelve months of our children's lives teaching them to walk and talk and the next twelve years telling them to sit down and shut up.
- Tranquilizers work only if you follow the advice on the bottle - keep away from children.
- I want my children to have all the things I couldn't afford. Then I want to move in with them.
- Burt Reynolds once asked me out. I was in his room.
- My photographs don't do me justice - they look just like me.
- As your beauty fades so will his eyesight.
- You know you're old if they have discontinued your blood type.
- I'm at the age where my back goes out more than I do.
Dix, Dorothea (nurse on relationships)
Man is not made better by being degraded; he is seldom restrained from crime by harsh measures, except the principle of fear predominates in his character; and then he is never made radically better for its influence.
Doyle, Arthur Conan (creator of Sherlock Holmes on investigation)
The healthy skepticism which medical training induces, the desire to prove every fact, and only reason from such proved facts – these are the finest foundation for all thought.
Dryden, John (life advice)
Beware the fury of a patient man.
Dubos, Rene (on the discoveries of Louis Pasteur)
In his hands, the experimental method was not a set of recipes, but a living philosophy adaptable to the ever-changing circumstances of natural phenomena.
Earle, John (a criticism of physicians)
His gaines are very ill got, for he lives by the hurts of the Common-wealth. He differs from a physician as a sore do’s from a disease or the sicke from those that are not whole, the one distempers you within, the other blisters you without…The rareness of his custome makes him pittilesse when it comes: and he holds a Patient longer then our Courts a Cause.
His practice is some businesse at bed-sides, and his speculation an Urinall. Hee is distinguished from an Empericke by a round velvet cap, and Doctors gowne, yet no man takes degrees more superfluously…and his discourse is all Aphorisms…The best cure he ha’s done is upon his own purse…His learning consists much in reckoning up the hard names of diseases…and speakes Greeke many times when he knows not. Of all odors he likes best the smell of Urine and holds Vespatians rule, that no gaine is unsavory…he will never leave examining your Water till hee have shakt it into disease.
Einstein, Albert (on discovery, and on his fellow man)
Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.
Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the universe.
Evelyn, John (a description of a lithotomy)
The sick creature was strip’d to his shirt, and bounde arms and thighs to an high Chaire, 2 men holding his shoulders fast down; then the Cirurgion with a crooked Instrument prob’d til he hit the stone, then…he made Incision thro the Scrotum about an Inch in length, then he put in his forefingers to get the stone as neere the orifice of the wound as he could, then with another Instrument like a Cranes neck he pull’d it out with incredible torture to the Patient.
Faulkner, William (a description of physicians).
Fiddlesticks, Father says, what do doctors know? They make their livings advising people to do whatever they are not doing at the time, which is the extent of anyone’s knowledge of the degenerate ape.
Fergusson, William (a description of his supervising physician)
He could read Hippocrates in the original Greek, but he did not know the grain scales and weights when he saw them; and to have touched a bleeding wound, even while the sound of cannon was booming in our ears, would have been to lose caste. He was my superior by at least four degrees of military rank, but I had to teach him what I was taught in the early days of my apprenticeship. With an apothecary, an assistant, a nurse, and a clerk in his train, he might have made a classical book prescription in classical Latin out of the military medicine chest; but had the ingredients of his own prescription been put into his hands, he would have known as much about them as if they had been sent from Timbuctoo. He had worn a cap and gown at Cambridge, but it is not to be supposed that he had entered an apothecary’s shop, or contaminated his hands with drugs.
Finnish Sorcerer (Noijat chant to expel demons)
O malady, disappear into the heaven; pain rise up to the clouds; inflamed vapour fly into the air in order that the wind may take thee away, that the tempest may chase thee to distant regions where sun nor moon give their light, where the warm wind does not inflame the flesh.
Fischer, Martin (on surgery)
Surgery is the cry of defeat in medicine.
Forrestier, Thomas (a description of the plague)
The exterior is calm in this fever, the interior excited . . .
The heat in the pestilent fever many times does not appear excessive to the doctor
Nor the heat of the sweat particularly high . . . .
But it is on account of the ill-natured, fetid, corrupt, putrid,
And loathsome vapors close to the region of the heart and lungs
Whereby the panting of the breath magnified and increases
And restricts itself.
Fowler, OS (reanimation with electricity)
…magnetism is the great element and supporter of all life, vegetable and animal, it is to be found in the fact, that the application of galvanism immediately after death, momentarily re-animates the corpse, and produces muscular motion, sensation, &c.—in short, the principal functions of life. Thus: the galvanic battery was applied to a pirate executed in Philadelphia, some years ago, after he had been dead about fifteen minutes, and produced sufficient muscular action to enable him to rise partially up, and strike two or three smart blows…
France, Anatole (on giving references to quotes)
When a thing has been said and well said, have no scruple: take it and copy it. Give references? Why should you? Either your readers know where you have taken the passage and the precaution is needless, or they do not know and you humiliate them.
Franklin, Benjamin (a criticism of physicians, and personal advice)
- God heals and the doctor takes the fee.
- He’s the best physician that knows the worthlessness of most medicines.
- Many dishes, many diseases; many medicines, few cures.
- (on vaccination) In 1736 I lost one of my sons, a fine boy of four years old, by the small-pox, taken in a common way. I long regretted bitterly, and still regret that I had not given it to him by inoculation. This I mention for the sake of parents who omit that operation, on the supposition that they should never forgive themselves if a child died under it; my example showing that the regret may be the same either way, and that, therefore, the safer should be chosen.
- (on aging and choosing a mistress) My dear Friend,
I know of no Medicine fit to diminish the violent natural Inclinations you mention; and if I did, I think I should not communicate it to you. Marriage is the proper Remedy. It is the most natural State of Man, and therefore the State in which you are most likely to find solid Happiness…But if you will not take this Counsel, and persist in thinking a Commerce with the Sex inevitable, then I repeat my former Advice, that in all your Amours you should prefer old Women to young ones…Because in every animal that walks upright, the Deficiency of the Fluids that fill the Muscles appears first in the highest Part: the Face first grows lank and wrinkled; then the Neck; then the Breast and Arms; the lower Parts continuing to the last as plump as ever: So that covering all above with a Basket, and regarding only what is below the Girdle, it is impossible of two women to know an old from a young one. And as in the dark all Cats are grey, the Pleasure of corporal Enjoyment with an Old Woman is at least equal, and frequently superior, every Knack being by Practice capable of Improvement…The having made a young Girl miserable may give you frequent bitter Reflections; none of which can attend the making an old Woman happy. They are so grateful!!
Your affectionate Friend, Benjamin Franklin
- He that lieth down with dogs rise up with fleas.
Galvani, Luigi (on medical electricity)
I am attacked by two very opposite sects: The scientists and the know-nothings. Both laugh at me, calling me the frog's dancing master. But I know that I have discovered one of the greatest forces in nature.
Garrison, Fielding (medicine’s place in history)
The history of medicine is, in fact, the history of humanity itself, with its ups and downs, its brave aspirations after truth and finality, its pathetic failures. The subject may be treated variously as a pageant, an array of books, a procession of characters, a succession of theories, an exposition of human ineptitudes, or as the very bone and marrow of cultural history.
Gibbon, Edward (the three stages of life)
- The warm desires, the long expectations of youth, are founded on the ignorance of themselves and of the world. They are gradually damped by time and experience, by disappointment and possession; and after the middle season the crowd must be content to remain at the foot of the mountain, while the few who have climbed to the summit aspire to descend or expect to fall. In old age the consolation of hope is reserved for the tenderness of parents, who commence a new life in their children; the faith of enthusiasts, who sing hallelujah is above the clouds; and the vanity of authors, who presume the immortality of their name and writings.
Gibran, Khalil (a perspective on life)
Yesterday is but today's memory, and tomorrow is today's dream, and (anonymous) today is a pain in the butt.
Gilman, Daniel Coit (on the medical student)
The medical student is likely to be one son of the family too weak to labour on the farm, too indolent to do any exercise, too stupid for the bar and too immoral for the pulpit.
Goldsmith, Oliver (a criticism of physicians)
There is scarcely a disorder incident to humanity against which our advertising doctors are not possessed with a most infallible antidote.
Gooch, Robert (on the etiology of puerperal fever)
Lying-in women are subject to a disease called puerperal fever. In general it is of infrequent occurrence...There are times, however, when this disease rages like an epidemic, and is very fatal. At these times circumstances occur which create a strong suspicion that the disorder may be communicated by a medical attendant or nurse from one lying-in woman to another.
Graham, James (a quack’s methods)
By air, by magnetism, by musical sounds, by subtle, cordial and balsamic medicines and chemical energy and by positive and negative electricity arbitrarily used, I have, as it were, an absolute command over the health, functions and diseases of the human body.
Greenspan, Robert (observations)
- Learn something you know nothing about. The more you learn the more difficult it is to understand.
- No one is as smart as you think they are.
- Value is related to approval and not to worth.
- Wealth is the appreciation of evolution, time, and space..
- The past is much more astonishing and the future much more frightening than any science fiction could imagine.
- Ways to become a better physician have not changed over the centuries - the only folks who can change history are politicians.
Gregory, John (on a physician’s character)
I come now to mention the moral qualities peculiarly required in the character of a physician. The chief of these is humanity; that sensibility of heart which makes us feel for the distresses of our fellow creatures, and which of consequence incites in us in the most powerful manner to help them.
Gross, Samuel (the fear of all surgeons)
I do not think that it is possible for a criminal to feel much worse the night before his execution than a surgeon when he knows that upon his skill and attention must depend the fate of a valuable citizen, husband, father, mother or child. Surgery under such circumstances is a terrible taskmaster, feeding like a vulture upon a man’s vitals.
Grünpeck, Joseph (on syphilis)
In recent times I have seen scourges, horrible sicknesses and many infirmities affect mankind from all corners of the earth. Amongst them has crept in, from the western shores of Gaul, a disease which is so cruel, so distressing, so appalling that until now nothing so horrifying, nothing more terrible or disgusting has ever been known on this earth.
Gull, William Withey (the patient and the disease)
The road to a clinic goes through the pathologic museum and not through the apothecary's shop.
Never forget that it is not a pneumonia, but a pneumonic man who is your patient. Not a typhoid fever, but a typhoid man.
Guthrie, Georg (on bleeding, and on a severely traumatized patient)
My sixteen ounces were increased to thirty, but it would not do. It was evident that, to succeed, no limit should be placed to the abstraction of blood in the first instance, but the decided incapability of bearing its further loss. Every man was therefore bled when he came into the hospital, until he fainted, and the bleeding was repeated every four hours, or even oftener, as long as pain or difficulty of breathing remained…
An officer of the fifth division was struck by a cannon-shot, during the assault on Badajos, on the right side of the head and face. It carried away the right eye and the whole face, the left eye hanging in the orbit, the floor of which was destroyed. A part of the lower jaw remained on the left side, but a great part of the tongue was gone. He had lost a large quantity of blood, but was quite sensible. In the middle of the next day he suffered much from the want of water to moisten his throat, which could not be procured. After a distressing delay of three or four hours under a hot sun, a small quantity was obtained, the arrival of which he observed; and whilst I was giving directions relative to its distribution, I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder, and on turning round saw this unfortunate man standing behind me, a terrific object, holding out a small cup for water, not one drop of which he could swallow. Alone amongst strangers, he felt that every kindness in our power to offer was bestowed upon him, and he contrived to write his thanks with a pencil, which he gave me when he pressed my hand at parting at eleven at night.
Halle, John (necessary qualities of a surgeon)
The chirurgien should have three dyvers properties in his person. That is to say, a harte as the harte of a lyin, his eyes like the eyes of a hawke, and his handes the handes of a woman.
Harington, John (on early therapy and bleeding)
As diet, drink, hot baths, whence sweat is growing,
With purging, vomiting, and letting blood:
Which taken in due time, not overflowing,
Each malady's infection is withstood.
The last of these is best, if skill and reason,
Respect age, strength, quantity, and season.
Of seventy from seventeen, if blood abound,
The opening of a vein is healthful found.
Harris, Walter (definition of a quack)
The difference between a Real Physician, and a Quack-Pretender, does commonly appear in this, that the first is Cautious, Deliberate, and Prudently Timorous in all Doubtful cases, or Dangerous circumstances, generally to others, in their several degrees, as he would be content to be dealt withall himself under the same circumstances; the Latter is Rash, Inconsiderate, and stifly heady in every thing he does, his Ignorance makes him Daring, and he always ventures to Promise Infallible success, from the nicest, most uncertain, and most Desperate Remedies that are known in Nature, or contrived by Art.
Harvey, William (circulation, and the importance of observation)
The blood passes through the lungs and heart by the force of the ventricles, and is sent for distribution to all parts of the body, where it makes its way into the veins and the flesh, and is finally discharged into the vena cava and right auricle of the heart. It is absolutely necessary to conclude that the blood in the animal body is impelled in a circle, and is in a state of ceaseless motion; and that it is the sole and only end of the motion and contraction of the heart.
In every science be it what it will, a diligent observation is requisite, and sense itself must be frequently consulted. We must not rely upon other men's experience, but our own, without which no man is a proper disciple of any part of natural knowledge.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel (on writing)
Easy reading is damn hard writing.
Henderson, Lawrence (on the whole patient)
You may in theory analyze a person into aspects, in practice you may not do so with impunity. Half a sheep is mutton.
Hippocrates (on disease, and on the physician)
- The body of man has itself blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile; these makeup the stuff of his body and through these he feels pain and enjoys health. Now he enjoys the most perfect health when these elements are duly proportioned to one another in respect of compounding, power, and bulk, that is, when they are perfectly mingled.
- We must observe his paroxysms, his stools, urine, sputum, and vomit. We look for any change in the state of the malady, how often such changes occur and their nature, and the particular changes which induce death or a crisis. Observe, too, sweating, shivering, chill, cough, sneezing, hiccough, the kind of breathing, belching, wind, whether silent or noisy, hemorrhages and hemorrhoids. We must determine the significance of all these signs.
- The master of a large ship mashed the index finger of his right hand with the anchor. Seven days later a somewhat foul discharge appeared; then trouble with his tongue – he complained he could not speak properly. The presence of tetanus was diagnosed, his jaws became pressed together, his teeth were locked, then symptoms appeared in his neck: on the third day opisthotonos appeared with sweating. Six days after the diagnosis was made he died.
- The dignity of a physician requires that he should look healthy, and as plump as nature intended him to be; for the common crowd consider those who are not of this excellent bodily condition to be unable to take care of others.
- For some patients, though conscious that their condition is perilous, recover their health simply through their contentment with the goodness of the physician.
- People rather admire what is new although they do not know whether it be proper or not, than what they are accustomed to and know already to be proper; and what is strange they prefer to what is obvious.
- Any man who is intelligent must, on considering that health is of the utmost value to human beings, have the personal understanding necessary to help himself in diseases, and be able to understand and to judge what physicians say and what they administer to his body, being versed in each of these matters to a degree reasonable for a layman.
- As to diseases, make a habit of two things - to help or at least to do no harm.
Holmes Sr., Oliver Wendell (medical philosophy)
- For faithful life-long study of science you will find no better example than John Hunter – never satisfied until he had the pericardium of nature open and her heart throbbing naked in his hand.
- There is nothing men will not do...to recover their health. They have been submitted to be seared with hot irons like galley slaves, to be crimped with knives like codfish, to have needles thrust into their flesh, and bonfires kindled on their skin, to swallow all sorts of abominations, and to pay for all of this as if to be singed and scalded were a costly privilege, as if blisters were a blessing and leeches a luxury.
- The disgrace of medicine has been that colossal system of self-deception, in obedience to which mines have been emptied of their cankering minerals, the vegetable kingdom robbed of all its noxious growths, the entrails of animals taxed of their impurities, the poison bags of reptiles drained of their venom, and all the inconceivable abominations thus obtained thrust down the throats of human beings suffering from some fault of organization, nourishment, or vital stimulation.
- So long as the body is affected through the mind, no audacious device, even of the most manifest dishonest character, can fail of producing occasional good to those who yield it an implicit or even a partial faith.
- A Pseudo-science consists of nomenclature, with a self-adjusting arrangement, by which all positive evidence, or such as favors its doctrines, is admitted, and all negative evidence, or such as tells against it, is excluded. It is invariably connected with some lucrative practical application.
- If the whole materia medica as used, could be sunk in the bottom of the sea, it would be all the better for mankind and all the worse for the fishes.
- No families take so little medicine as those of doctors, except those of apothecaries.
- Homeopathy (is)…a mingled mass of perverse ingenuity, of tinsel erudition, of imbecile credulity, and of artful misrepresentation, too often mingled in practice…with heartless and shameless imposition.
- It is not a pleasant thing to find that one has killed a patient by a slip of the pen. I am afraid our barbarous method of writing prescriptions in what is sometimes fancifully called Latin, and with the old astrological sign of Jupiter at the head of them to bring good luck, may have helped to swell the list of casualties. We understand why plants and minerals should have technical names, but I am much disposed to think that good plain English, written out at full length, is good enough for any body’s use. Why should I employ the language of Celsus? He commonly used none but his own. However, we must use a dead language, and symbols that are not only dead, but damned by all sound theology.
- I would never use a long word, even, where a short one would answer the purpose. I know there are professors in this country who “ligate” arteries. Other surgeons only tie them, and it stops the bleeding just as well.
- The young man knows the rules, but the old man knows the exceptions.
- There is no form of lead-poisoning which more rapidly and thoroughly pervades the blood and bones and marrow than that which reaches the young author through mental contact with type-metal…So the man or woman who has tasted type is sure to return to his old indulgence sooner or later.
- Also as I see no reasons for attributing cosmic importance to man, other than that attaching to whatever is. I regard him as I do the other species (except that my private interests are with his) having for his main business to live and propagate, and for his main interest food and sex.
Homer (the value of a physician)
The man of medicine can in worth with many warriors vie,
Who knows the weapons to excise, and soothing salves apply.
Hufeland, Christoph Wilhelm (treating the patient)
The physician must generalize the disease, and individualize the patient.
Hunter, John (on anatomic instruction)
(pointing out several cadavers to a student’s father) These are the books your son will learn under my direction, the others are fit for very little.
Hutchinson, Sir Robert (a physician's Lord's prayer)
From inability to let well lone; from too much zeal for the new and contempt for what is old; from putting knowledge before wisdom;, science before art, and cleverness before common sense; fro treating patients as cases, and from making the cure of the disease more grievous than the endurance of the same, Good Lord deliver us.
Hutchinson, Sir Robert (a physician's Lord's prayer)
From inability to let well lone; from too much zeal for the new and contempt for what is old; from putting knowledge before wisdom;, science before art, and cleverness before common sense; fro treating patients as cases, and from making the cure of the disease more grievous than the endurance of the same, Good Lord deliver us.
Hutchinson, Sir Robert (a physician's Lord's prayer)
From inability to let well alone; from too much zeal for the new and contempt for what is old; from putting knowledge before wisdom;, science before art, and cleverness before common sense; from treating patients as cases, and from making the cure of the disease more grievous than the endurance of the same, Good Lord deliver us.
Hutten, Ulrich von (the transmission of syphilis)
In the year of Christ 1493, or thereabouts, this Evil began amongst the People...It is thought that his Disease in our days ariseth not, unless by infection from a carnal Contact, as in copulating with a disease Person, since it appears now that young Children, old Men and others, not give to fornication or bodily lust, are very rarely diseased. Also the more a Man is addicted to these Pleasures, the sooner he catcheth it...In Women the Disease resteth
Huxley, Thomas (on research)
The Great Tragedy of Science – the staying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.
Science is simply common sense at its best, that is, rigidly accurate in observation, and merciless to fallacy in logic.
Irving, Frederick (Boerhaave’s medical advice)
When in 1738 the great Dutch physician Boerhaave died he left an elaborately bound book which was said to contain all the secrets of medicine. Upon opening the volume all the pages were found blank but one, and on that was written, “Keep the head cool, the feet warm, and the bowels open.”
Jackson, Chevalier (on medical instruction)
In teaching the medical student the primary requisite is to keep him awake.
James I of England (on smoking
A custom loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain, dangerous to the lungs, and in the black stinking fume thereof, nearest resembling the horrible Stygian smoke of the pit that is bottomless.
Jefferson, Thomas (criticisms of medicine and physicians)
- The state of medicine is worse than that of total ignorance…From Hippocrates to Brown we have had nothing but a succession of hypothetical systems each having its day of vogue, like the fashions & fancies of caps & gowns, & yielding in turn to the next caprice. Yet the human frame, which is to be the subject of suffering & torture under these learned modes, does not change.
- (The medical student’s) mind must be strong indeed if, rising above juvenile credulity, it can maintain a wise infidelity against the authority of his instructors, & the bewitching delusions of their theories.
- I believe we may safely affirm, that the inexperienced and presumptuous band of medical tyros let loose upon the world, destroys more of human life in one year, than all the Robinhoods, Cartouches, & Mcheasths do in a century…I wish to see a reform, an abandonment of hypothesis for sober facts, the first degree of value set on clinical observation, and the lowest on visionary theories.
- One of the most successful physicians I have ever known, has assured me, that he used more bread pills, drops of colored water, & powders of hickory ashes, than of all other medicines put together. It was certainly a pious fraud.
- (on Benjamin Rush) In his theory of bleeding and mercury, I was ever opposed to my friend Rush, whom I greatly loved; but who had done much harm, in the sincerest persuasion that he was preserving life and happiness to all around him.
- (on Smallpox vaccinations) Medicine has never before produced any single improvement of such utility. You have erased from the calendar of human afflictions one of its greatest.
Jekyll, Joseph (a criticism of physicians)
The parson shows the way to heaven,
And then with tender care
The doctor consummates the work
And sends the patient there.
Jenner, Edward (on small pox)
The disease has obtained the name of the cow-pox...The disease makes its progress from the horse to the nipple of the cow, and from the cow to the human subject...What renders the cow-pox virus so extremely singular is that the person who has been thus affected is forever after secure from the infection of the small-pox; neither exposure to the variolous affluvia, nor the insertion of the matter into the skin, producing this distemper.
A hundred thousand persons, upon the smallest computation have been inoculated in these realms. The number who have partaken of its benefits throughout Europe and other parts of the globe are incalculable; and it now becomes too manifest to admit of controversy, that the annihilation of the Small Pox, the most dreadful scourge of the human species, must be the final result of this practice.
Jessel, George (the brain)
The human brain is a wonderful thing. It starts working the moment you are born, and never stops until you stand up to speak in public.
John of Salisbury (criticism of physicians)
- (Newly trained physicians) soon return from college, full of flimsy theories, to practice what they have learned. Galen and Hippocrates are continually in their mouths. They speak aphorisms on every subject, and make their hearers stare at their long, unknown, and high-sounding words. The good people believe that they can do anything, because they pretend to all things. They have only two maxims which they never violate: never mind the poor, never refuse money from the rich.
- The common people say, that physicians are the class of people who kill other men in the most polite and courteous manner.
- We see more and farther than our predecessors, not because we have keener vision or greater height, but because we are lifted up and borne aloft on their gigantic stature.
Johnes, Squatol (an end of life definition)
DEAD: Done with the work of breathing; done With all the world; the mad race run Through to the end; the golden goal Attained and found to be a hole!
Johnson, Samuel (on vivisection)
Among the inferior professors of medical knowledge, is a race of wretches whose lives are only varied by varieties of cruelty, whose favorite amusement is to nail dogs to tables and open them alive.
Judah ha-Levi (a criticism of physician training)
Every ill man fears death and hopes that he may be cured; and when told that the physician is coming he feels happy and he longs to wait for the utterances of his mouth. For this reason any fool and inexperienced man finds it possible to be a physician.
Jung, Carl Gustav (on man’s character)
The brain is viewed as an appendage of the genital glands.
Kafka, Franz (on doctors)
Certainly doctors are stupid, or rather, they’re not more stupid than other people but their pretensions are ridiculous; [but] you have to reckon with the fact that they become more and more stupid the moment you come into their clutches . . .
Keen, William Williams (a description of early surgery)
We used only the ordinary marine or toilet sponges. After an operation they were washed in ordinary water to cleanse them of blood and pus, and were used in subsequent operations. In our ignorance of bacteriology we did not know that they harbored multitudes of germs which infected every wound in which they were used…Before an operation nothing was rendered sterile by antiseptics, or by heat (boiling, baking). I have seen more than once, my old teacher, Professor S. D. Gross, give a last final touch to his knife on his boot – even on the sole – and then at once use it from the first cut to the last. When threading a needle, all of us pointed out silk by wetting it with germ laden saliva and rolling it between germ laden fingers…it was seven times safer to fight all through three days of Gettysburg than to have an arm or a leg cut off…What a contrast is the surgery of today!
King, Albert Freeman Africanus (the transmission of malaria)
Viewed in the light of our modern “germ theory” of disease, the punctures of the proboscidian insects, like those of Pasteur's needles, deserve consideration, as probable means by which bacteria and other germs may be inoculated into human bodies, so as to infect the blood and give rise to special fevers...I now propose to present a series of facts...with regard to the so-called “malarial poison” and to show how they may be explicable by the supposition that the mosquito is the real source of disease, rather than the inhalation of cutaneous absorption of a marsh-vapor.
Kingsley, Charles (on tobacco)
When all things were made none was made better than (tobacco); to be a lone man’s companion, a bachelor’s friend, a hungry man’s food, a sad man’s cordial, a wakeful man’s sleep, and a chilly man’s fire, Sir; while for stanching of wounds, purging of rheum, and settling of the stomach, there’s no herb like unto it under the canopy of heaven.
Kircher, Athanasius (an early theory of infectious disease)
It is certain that the air, water and earth are filled with innumerable small animals; and furthermore that they can be demonstrated. It has been moreover known to everyone that worms grow from putrefying corpses; but since that admirable invention the microscope, it is known that everything putrid is filled with innumerable worms, invisible to the naked eye; which moreover I would not have believed had I not proved it by the experiments of many years.
(on plague) Fearful symptoms and effects result, as for example harmful abscesses, tumors, boils, and bumps, carbuncles and buboes of various forms, spots and eruptions, which project from the skin and seem sown throughout the body, like hempseed. Then there comes to the patient loss of senses and unconsciousness, weakness and vomiting…The poisonous corpuscular are thrown off, become more poisonous and the contagion is spread still further.
Koch, Robert (infectious disease)
In the first papers concerning the aetiology of tuberculosis I have already indicated the dangers arising from the spread of the bacilli-containing excretions of consumptives, and have urged moreover that prophylactic measures should be taken against the contagious disease. But my words have been unheeded. It was still too early, and because of this they still could not meet with full understanding. It shared the fate of so many similar cases in medicine, where a long time has also been necessary before old prejudices were overcome and the new facts were acknowledged to be correct by the physicians.
Laennec, Rene (on the stethoscope, and on tuberculosis)
I had not imagined it would be necessary to give a name to such a simple device, but others thought differently. If one wants to give it a name, the most suitable would be “stethoscope.”
Whatever the form in which the tuberculous matter develops, it begins as a grey, semitransparent matter that little by little becomes yellow, opaque, and dense. Then it softens, and slowly acquires a liquidity like pus, and, when it is expelled through the airways, it leaves cavities, commonly called ulcers of the lung, that we will designate as tuberculous excavations.
Lanfranc of Milan (the study of medicine and surgery)
Why, in God’s name, in our days, is there such a great difference between the physician and the surgeon? The physicians have abandoned operative procedures to the laity, either, as some say, because they disdain to operate with their hands, or rather, as I think, because they do not know how to perform operations…It ought, however, to be understood that no one can be a good physician who has no idea of surgical operations, and that a surgeon is nothing if ignorant of medicine. In a word one must be familiar with both departments of Medicine.
Lanfranchi, Guido (on the surgeon)
It is necessary that a surgeon should have a temperate and moderate disposition. That he should have well-formed hands, long slender fingers, a strong body, not inclined to tremble and with all his members trained to the capable fulfillment of the wishes of his mind. He should be of deep intelligence and of a simple, humble, brave, but not audacious disposition. He should be well grounded in natural science, and should know not only medicine but every part of philosophy; should know logic well, so as to be able to understand what is written, to talk properly, and to support what he has to say by good reasons.
Learmonth, James (on John Hunter)
All surgical roads lead to John Hurst principles which have guided great men their successors should probe the workings of their minds rather than their technical successes.
Leeuwenhoek, Anton van (and reporting his findings)
I have oft-times been besought, by divers gentlemen, to set down on paper what I have beheld through my newly invented Microscopia: but I have generally declined: first, because I have no style, or pen wherewith to express my thoughts properly; secondly, because I have not been brought up to languages or arts, but only to business; and in the third place, because I do not gladly suffer contradiction or censure from others.
Lemnius, Leviinus (the medical use of spittle)
Divers experiments show that power and quality there is in man's fasting spittle, when he hath neither eat nor drunk before the use of it; for it cures all tetters, itch, scabs, pushes, and creeping sores; and if venomous little beasts have fastened on any part of the body, as hornets, beetles, toads, spiders, and such like, that by their venome cause tumours and great pains and inflammations; do but rub the places with fasting spittle, and all those effects will be gone and dismissed.
Leoniceno, Niccolo (on syphilis)
A disease of an unusual nature has invaded Italy and many other regions. In the beginning pustules are on the private parts, soon on the whole body and frequently located on the face itself besides causing great hideousness as well as a great deal of pain. Moreover to this disease the physicians of our time do not yet give a name, but is called by the common name of French disease, as if this contagion were imported from France into Italy or because Italy was invaded at the same time both by the disease itself and the armies of the French.
Lettsom, John (on treating his patients)
When people’s ill, they comes to I,
I physics, bleeds, and sweat ‘em;
Sometimes they live, sometimes they die,
What’s that to I? I lets ‘em.
Levenson, Sam (insanity)
Insanity is hereditary. You get it from your children.
Lichtenberg, Georg (life advice)
One's first step in wisdom is to question everything, and one's last is to come to terms with everything.
Liehrsch, Bernhard (on physical examination)
You should never omit feeling the pulse, and looking at the urine and the tongue. These are the three matters to which every patient attaches value.
Lincoln, Abraham (smallpox)
- “For once in my life as president, I find myself in a position to give everybody something.” On the day prior to giving his Gettysburg Address Lincoln felt weak and developed a fever on the train trip back to Washington. Upon his arrival he complained of back pain and a headache. Two days later a rash appeared which progressed to blisters characteristic and diagnosed by one consultant, and several later physicians, as smallpox.
Lister, Joseph (invading the human body)
To intrude an unskilled hand into such a piece of Devine mechanism as the human body is indeed a fearful responsibility.
Long, Crawford (on early anesthesia)
The ether was given to Mr. Venable on a towel and fully under its influence, I extirpated the tumour…The patient continued to inhale ether during the time of the operation, and seemed incredulous until the tumour was shown to him. He gave no evidence of pain during the operation and assured me after it was over that he did not experience the least degree of pain.
Louis, Pierre-Charles-Alexandre (the importance of medical statistics)
There is something rarer than the spirit of discernment; it is the need of truth; that state of the soul which does not allow us to stop in any scientific labors at what is only probable, but compels us to continue our researches until we have arrived at evidence.
As often as I have formed an a priori idea and had afterward opportunity to prove the facts, I have invariably found that my idea was false. In pathology as well as in therapeutics numerical analysis is a useful practice. By numbers only can be obtained the frequency of conditions or this or that symptom; by a definite enumeration alone is it possible to utilize the special relations of age, sex, constitution of our patients, to settle that this or that symptom occurs so often in one hundred or one thousand cases.
Lucian of Samosata (on the pain of gout)
Then unperceiv’d she drives her piercing Dart,
And Wounds the inmost Sense with secret smart…
Thro’ ev’ry Joint the thrilling Anguish pours, And gnaws, and burns, and tortures, and devours; Till Length of Suff’ring the dire Pow’r appease,
And the fierce Torments at her bidding cease.
Ludwig, J.P (in appreciation of Semmelweis)
There are few such parallels in the history of science, in regard to his tremendous moral heroism; in spite of every conceivable difficulty, in positions of misrepresentation, in spite of persecution, he continued his labours, until crowned with a full clearing up of the difficulties. As to his martyrdom, there is not such a history. The persecution to which he was exposed in the later years of his stay in Vienna, his being hounded out of Vienna and settling in Budapest, and his premature end in loss of reason, form indeed a sad story, and one of the highest examples that can be presented.
Luther, Martin (on the uses of dung)
Tis wonderful how God has put such excellent physic in mere muck; we know by experience that swine’s dung stints the blood; horse’s serves for the pleurisy; man’s heals wounds and black blotches; asses’ is used for the bloody flux, and cow’s with preserved roses, serves for epilepsy, or for convulsions of children.
Macaulay, Thomas Babington (of the plague and small pox)
The havoc of the plague had been far more rapid: but the plague had visited our shores only once or twice within the living memory; and the small pox was always present, filling the church-yards with corpses, tormenting with constant fears all whom it had not yet stricken...
Macewen, William (underappreciation of John Hunter)
John Hunter has been placed in the same rank as Aristotle, Bichat, and Harvey, yet during his life he stood alone – as possibly all such men must. He never had more than 20 students at his lectures, and at the beginning, when a solitary student presented himself, he had to ask the attendant to bring in the skeleton, so that he might address them as “Gentlemen.”
MacManus, Seumas (behavior)
Many a man's tongue broke his nose.
Maimonides (early advice)
“Quondam medicus non curabat speciem aegritudinis sed individuum ipsius” (The physician should not treat the disease but the patient who is suffering from it.)
The flames of ignorance burn without pain.
Malpighi, Marcello (the anatomy of the kidney)
…be assured of this one thing, that I never reached my idea of the structure of the kidney by the aid of books, but by the long, patient and varied use of the microscope. I have gotten the rest by the deductions of reason, slowly, and with an open mind, as is my custom.
Mather, Cotton (describing tuberculosis)
A DREADFUL Disease! But so incident unto Us, that Foreigners cal it, The English Disease. What is the Spectacle that we have before us, when we see a Friend, with a Consumption upon him…We see the Body Wasting with a Lingering Fever; and for the most Part a tedious Cough, proceeding from ill-figured Particles in the Blood, with which the Lungs are grievously corroded.
Maugham, W. Somerset (outpatient department)
It was manifold and various; there were tears and laughter, happiness and woe; it was tedious and interesting and indifferent; it was as you saw it: it was tumultuous and passionate; it was grave; it was sad and comic; it was trivial; it was simple and complex; joy was there and despair…It was life.
Maupassant, Guy de (on having syphilis)
For five weeks I have been taking mercury and potassium iodide and I feel very well on it. My hair is beginning to grow again and the hair on my arse is sprouting. I’ve got the pox! At last! Not the contemptible clap…no – no – the great pox, the one Francis I died of. The majestic pox…and I’m proud of it, by thunder. I don’t have to worry about catching it any more, and I screw the street whores and trollops, and afterwards I say to them, ‘I’ve got the pox.’
McCrea, Dr. John (on death from “In Flanders Fields”)
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw the sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
Take up your quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Michaelis, Professor (a personal account of puerperal fever)
Professor Michaelis from Kiel: Last summer my cousin died of puerperal fever. I had examined her after delivery at a time when I had autopsied patients who had died of puerperal fever. From that time I was convinced of communicability. Semmelweis later recounted an unfortunate outcome: “…he sank into a deep melancholy, and threw himself under a train speeding into Hamburg. I have related Michaelis’s unfortunate death as a monument to his sensitive conscience. Unfortunately I will also exhibit to the reader obstetricians whose consciences lack that of which Michaelis’s had too much. May his remains rest in peace.”
Milton, John (an early hospital)
A Lazar-house it seemed, wherein were laid
Numbers of all diseas’d, all maladies
Of ghastly Spasm, or racking torture, qualmes
Of heart-sick Agonie, all feavorous kinds,
Convulsions, Epilepsies, fierce Catarrhs,
Intestin Stone and Ulcer, Colic pangs,
Daemoniac Phrenzie, moaping Melancholie,
And Moon-struck madness, pining Atrophie,
Marasmus, and wide-wasting Pestilence,
Dropsies and Asthma’s, and Joint-racking Rheums. Dire was the tossing, deep the groans, despair Tended the sick busiest from Couch to Couch.
Mirfield, John (on writing his book)
I protest, however, at the finish of this little work, just as I also did at the beginning thereof, that with regard to all the things which are contained in this little tract, I myself have added nothing of my own to the matter at hand, for the reason that I have not discovered anything of my very own to add. I have simply collected the words of authoritative philosophers and scientists, as well as the opinions of practical men, and having collected them together, have written them all down in one little summary: so that poor and unlearned men who do not possess a plenty of books at hand may here be able to find, at least in a superficial degree, not a few remedies for very many diseases.
Mizner, Wilson (on using others’ words)
If you steal from one author it’s plagiarism; if you steal from many, it’s research.
Molière (a criticism of physicians)
(Doctors) have had a very good education, they know how to talk very good Latin, and how to name all the diseases in Greek, and define them and classify them; but as for curing them, that’s what they don’t know at all.
If we blunder it isn’t our look out: it’s always the fault of the fellow who’s dead and the best part of it is that there’s a sort of decency among the dead, a remarkable discretion: you never find them making any complaint against the doctor who killed them!
Monson, Thomas S. (life advice)
We can’t direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.
Montagne, Michel de (a criticism of physicians, and on the penis)
- Doctors have a clever way of turning everything to their advantage. Whenever nature, luck, or anything else benefits our health, they lay it to their medicine. When things go badly they disown all responsibility and throw the blame on their patient. In my own sickness I have never found three doctors of the same opinion. Laxatives, I am advised, are proper for a man afflicted with the stone, by dilating the vessels they help discharge the viscous matter out of which the gravel is formed. Again, laxatives are dangerous, because, by dilating the vessels, they help the formative matter to reach the kidneys which naturally seize and retain it. It is the fear of pain and death, impatience at being ill, hich blind us. It is pure cowardice that makes us so gullible.
- Whenever a new discovery is reported to the scientific world, they say first, ‘It is probably not true.’ Thereafter, when the truth of the new proposition has been demonstrated beyond question, they say, ‘Yes, it may be true, but it is not that important.’ Finally, when sufficient time has elapsed to fully evidence its importance, they say, ‘Yes, surely it is important, but it is no longer new.’
- If your doctor does not think it good for you to sleep, to take wine or some particular meat, do not worry; I will find you another who will disagree with him.
- (on the penis) The indocile liberty of this member is very remarkable, so importantly unruly in its timidity and impatience, when we do not require it, and so unseasonably disobedient when we stand most in need of it: so imperiously contesting in authority with the will, and with so much haughty obstinacy denying all solicitation, both of hand and mind.
Morgani, Giovanni Battista (medical observations, and on syphilis)
- Symptoms are the cry of suffering organs.
- To admire and follow not antiquity, not novelty, not tradition, but only the truth, wherever it might be.
- (on a syphilitic aneurism) A certain debauchee having gone into the house…and after a little time having come out…and (the strumpet) not having appear’d for two or three hours after, the neighbors…found her not only dead but cold; lying in bed with such a posture of body, that it could not be doubted what business she had been about…(At necropsy) an orifice…communicated with a roundish aneurism, that hung to it in the form of a sacculus…And it had been ruptured in the upper part.
Moynihan, Daniel Patrick (on facts)
- You are entitled to your opinions. But you are not entitled to your own facts.
Moynihan, Berkeley (on Lister, and on patients’ suffering)
- On the roll of honor which, in letters of gold bears the names of the saviours of mankind, no man is more worthy of remembrance than Lister. His living and enduring memorial is a great, and ever greater multitude of men, women, children, of every nation, of every race, of every creed, through his mercy and by the skill of his most gentle hand relieved from infirmity and suffering and sorrow, and made for a time triumphant over death itself.
- No training of the surgeon can be too arduous, no discipline to stern, and none of us may measure our devotion to our cause. For us an operation is an incident in the day’s work, but for our patients it may be, and no doubt it often is, the sternest and most dreaded of all trials, for the mysteries of life and death surround it, and it must be faced alone.
Nightingale, Florence (advice)
- No man, not even a doctor, ever gives any other definition of what a nurse should be than this - 'devoted and obedient'. This definition would do just as well for a porter. It might even do for a horse
- I attribute my success to this - I never gave or took any excuse.
- I think one's feelings waste themselves in words; they ought all to be distilled into actions which bring results.
- Apprehension, uncertainty, waiting, expectation, fear of surprise, do a patient more harm than any exertion.
- How very little can be done under the spirit of fear.
Osler, William (advice from the greatest modern physician)
- The ancients thought as clearly as we do, had greater skills in the arts and in architecture, but they had never learned the use of the great instrument which has given man control over nature -- experiment.
- (Pierre) Louis introduced what is known as the Numerical Method, a plan which we use every day, though the phrase is not now very often on our lips...To get an accurate knowledge of any disease it is necessary to study a large series of cases and to go into all the particulars – the conditions under which it is met, the subjects specially liable, the various symptoms, the pathological changes, the effects of drugs. This method, so simple, so self-evident, we own largely to Louis.
- Medicine is a science of uncertainty and an art of probability.
- In science the credit goes to the man who convinces the world, not to the man to whom the idea first occurred.
- Now of the difficulties bound up with the public in which we doctors work, I hesitate to speak in a mixed audience. Common sense in matters medical is rare, and is usually in inverse ratio to the degree of education.
- The greater the ignorance, the greater the dogmatism.
- The four points of a medical student's compass are: Inspection, Palpation, Percussion, and Auscultation.
- (at a medical school graduation) Gentlemen, I have a confession to make. Half of what we have taught you is in error, and furthermore we cannot tell you which half it is.
- Learn to see, learn to hear, learn to feel, learn to smell, and know that by practice alone can you become expert. Medicine is learned by the bedside and not in the classroom. Let not your conceptions of the manifestations of disease come from words heard in the lecture room or read from the book.
- Listen to the patient: He is telling you the diagnosis.
- The best teaching is that taught by the patient himself.
- One finger in the throat and one finger in the rectum makes a good diagnostician.
- (on syphilis) Syphilis, which begins its pathological existence as a modest, inactive Hunterian chancre, soon enters upon a career that is unsurpassed for the inclusiveness and variety of its manifestations. There is no organ in the body, nor any tissue in the organs, which syphilis does not invade: and it is therefore manifestly difficult to speak, at least at all concisely, of the pathology of the disease; just as it is almost impossible to describe its clinical symptoms without mentioning almost every symptom of every disease known.
- No more dangerous members of our profession exist than those born into it, so to speak, as specialists. Without any broad foundation in physiology or pathology, and ignorant of the great processes of disease, no amount of technical skill can hide from the keen eyes of colleagues defects which too often require the arts of the charlatan to screen from the public.
- It cannot be too often or too forcibly brought home to us that the hope of the profession is with the men who do its daily work in general practice.
- There are in everyone's practice moments in which his vision is holden so that even an experienced man cannot see what is nevertheless perfectly clear. At least, I have noticed in my own case. An overweening self-confidence, a preconceived opinion, vanity, and weariness are the causes of these astounding mistakes
- The young physician starts life with twenty drugs for each disease, and the old physician ends life with one drug for twenty diseases.
- To study the phenomena of disease without books is to sail an unchartered sea, while to study books without patients is not to go to sea at all.
- It is easier to buy books than to read them. And easier to read them than to absorb them.
- Curious, odd compounds are these fellow-creatures, at whose mercy you will be; full of fads and eccentricities, of whims and fancies; but the more closely we study their little foibles of one sort and another in the inner life which we see, the more surely is the conviction borne in upon us of the likeness of their weaknesses to our own.
- The natural man has only two primal passions, to get and to beget
- Pneumonia is the captain of the men of death and tuberculosis is the handmaid.
- Nothing will sustain you more potently than the power to recognize in your humdrum routine, as perhaps it may be thought, the true poetry of life – the poetry of the commonplace, of the ordinary man, of the plain, toil-worn woman, with their loves and their joys, their sorrows and their griefs.
- The philosophies of one age have become the absurdities of the next, and the foolishness of yesterday has become the wisdom of tomorrow.
- The practice of medicine is an art, not a trade; a calling, not a business; a calling in which your heart will be exercised equally with your head.
- The good physician treats the disease, but the great physician treats the patient.
Packard, Francis R (on the MD degree)
The first man to receive a medical diploma in North America was Daniel Turner, who was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Medicine in 1720 from Yale College. Turner had given much money to the College...Those of humorous turn of mind are said to have interpreted M.D. As signifying Multum Donavit.
Paré, Ambroise (founder of modern surgery)
- There are five duties of surgery: to remove what is superfluous, to restore what has been dislocated, to separate what has grown together, to reunite what has been divided, and to redress the defects of nature.
- I dressed him, and God healed him.
- Cure occasionally, relieve often, console always.
Parisé, Reveille (about medicine)
Medicine is the most noble profession and the most depressing occupation.
Pasteur, Louis (advice to investigators)
- Put forward nothing that cannot be proved simply and conclusively. Venerate the critical spirit…Without it all else is nothing. It always has the last word.
- I should like to see these profound words inscribed on the threshold of all the temples of science: “The greatest derangement of the mind is to believe in something because one wishes it to be so.”
Patence, William (from a quack physician)
I shall offer no apology for my medicine which is well-known to give ease and satisfaction in palsies, gout, rheumatism, piles, fistulas, cancers of any sort, King’s Evil, hereditary infections, jaundice, green sickness, St. Anthony’s Fire, convulsions, consumptions, scorbutic diseases, pains in the head, temple, arteries, face, nose, mouth, and limbs, for which nothing upon earth is surer, softer or better. The Universal Medicine also restores lost hearing and sight, renews the vital and animal vitalities, gives complexion to the face, liveliness to the whole structure, and many times has given unexperienced relief on the verge of eternity…
Penfield, Wilder (on Hippocrates and Paré)
Hippocrates…swept away religious superstition and the unprovable assumptions of philosophy, to record what he could see and hear and feel. He based his reasoning on observed fact and learned to assist the body in its vital struggle against disease.
Paré…was guided by fearless compassion for the suffering of his patients, and by practical experiment. Thus it was that he established better methods of treatment and forbade gratuitous interference.
Pereira, Nicolás (on the beauty of tennis)
Being first to step on a new grass court is like having a religious experience.
Petrarch (a criticism of physicians)
If a hundred or a thousand people, all of the same age, of the same constitution and habits, were suddenly seized by the same illness, and one half of them were to place themselves under the care of doctors, such as they are in our time, whilst the other half entrusted themselves to Nature and to their own discretion, I have not the slightest doubt that there would be more cases of death amongst the former, and more cases of recovery among the latter.
Phelps, Edward (life advice)
The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything.
Phillips, Bum (football life advice)
- You fail all the time, but you aren’t a failure until you start blaming someone else.
- (on coach Bear Bryant) He can take his'n and beat your'n, and turn around and take your'n and beat his'n.
- (on running back Earl Campbell's inability to run a mile) When it's first and a mile I won't give him the ball.
- That test says he's as dumb as a fence post but when he hits he looks like Einstein to me.
- I always thought I could coach. I just thought people were poor judges of good coaches.
Pickering, George White (a criticism of physicians)
We may...ask why people, especially doctors and scientists, like to use these strange words which other men do not or cannot understand. I am quite sure that usually it is no more than a bad habit which most acquire unwittingly. But its underlying basis is more than that. Its purpose is to advance the standing of its user; its method is deception: deception of others, and ultimately self-deception.
Plato (on practicing holistic medicine)
So neither ought you to attempt to cure the body without the soul; and this is the reason why the cure of many diseases is unknown to the physicians of Hellas, because they are ignorant of the whole which ought to be studied also; for the part can never be well unless the whole is well...For this is the great error of our day in the treatment of the human body, that physicians separate the soul from the body.
Pliny the Elder (a criticism of physicians)
Physicians acquire their knowledge from our dangers, making experiments at the cost of our lives. Only a physician can commit homicide with impunity.
People believed in any one who gave himself out for a doctor, even if the falsehood directly entailed the greatest danger...Unfortunately there is no law which punishes doctors for ignorance, and no one takes revenge on a doctor if, through his fault, some one dies. It is permitted him by our danger to learn for the future, at our death to make experiments, and, without having to fear punishment, to set at naught the life of a human being.
Pott, Percival (definitions, and the success of quackery)
Clear and precise definitions of diseases, and the application of such names to them as are expressive of their true and real nature, are of more consequence than they are generally imagined to be: Untrue or imperfect ones occasion false ideas; and false ideas are generally followed by erroneous practice.
The desire of health and ease, like that of money, seems to put all understandings and all men upon a level; the avaricious are duped by every bauble; the lame and the unhealthy by every quack. Each party resigns his understanding, swallows greedily, and for a time believes implicitly the most groundless, ill-founded, and delusory promises…
Purkey, William (life advice)
You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching.
Love like you’ll never get hurt.
Sing like there’s nobody listening.
And live like it’s heaven on earth.
Rademacher, Johann (on physicians’ incomes)
But around here, even if you made so much that you could live from it, you still wouldn't be able to save anything. And then what will you live from when you get weak from age, or you get an ulcer on your foot or a hernia, or some other condition which would keep you from horseback, or from travelling about, or from the privilege of immersing yourself in storm and tempest. If you ask me how an impoverished physician is supposed to get on in this land and prepare himself for the future, I say, if you don't have any money marry a rich girl. If you're an ugly devil whom no one would have, maybe you can win the lottery a couple of times.
Rhazes (an early account of small pox)
The bodies most disposed to the Small-Pox are in general such as are moist, pale, and fleshy; the well-coloured also, and ruddy, as likewise the swarthy when they are loaded with flesh; those who are frequently attacked by acute and continued fevers, bleeding at the nose, inflammation of the eyes, and white and red pustules, and vesicles.
Roger, Henri (on the stethoscope)
Laennec in placing his ear on the chest of his patient heard for the first time in the history of human disease the cry of suffering organs. First of all, he learned to know the variations in their cries and the expressive modulations of the air-carrying tubes and orifices of the heart that indicate the points where all is not well. He was the first to understand and to make others realize the significance of this pathological language, which, until then, had been misunderstood or, rather, scarcely listened to. Henceforth, the practitioner of medicine, endowed with one sense more than before and with his power of investigation materially increased, could read for himself the alterations hidden in the depths of the organs. His ear opened to the mind a new world in medical science.
Rokitansky, Karl von (the foundation of pathology)
Pathological anatomy must constitute the groundwork, not only of all medical knowledge, but also of all medical treatment…it embraces all that medicine has to offer of positive knowledge.
Roosevelt, Theodore (criticism of the critic)
It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows achievement and who at the worst if he fails at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.
Ross, George (on the surgeon)
Any fool can cut off a leg – it takes a surgeon to save one.
Rousseau, Jean Jacques (a criticism of medicine)
A feeble body makes a feeble mind. Hence the influence of physic, an art which does more harm to man than all the evils it professes to cure. I do not know what the doctors cure us of, but I know this: they infect us with very deadly diseases, cowardice, timidity, credulity, the fear of death. What matter if they make the dead walk, we have no need of corpses; they fail to give us men, and it is men we need.
I shall always ask what real good the art of medicine has done to men. Some of those whom it cures would die, to be sure, but millions whom it kills would live. Sensible reader, do not invest in that lottery where the chances are so heavily against you. Suffer, die, or get well, but in any case live to your last hour.
Rush, Benjamin (the dangers of sex and tooth decay)
When indulged in an undue or a promiscuous intercourse with the female sex, or in onanism, it produces seminal weakness, impotence, dysuria, tabes dorsalis, pulmonary consumption, dyspepsia, dimness of site, vertigo, epilepsy, hypochondriasis, loss of memory, manalgia, fatuity, and death.
I have been made happy...in pointing out a connection between the extraction of decayed and diseased teeth and the cure of general diseases...Our success in the treatment of all chronic diseases would be very much promoted, by directing our inquiries into the state of the teeth in sick people, and by advising their extraction in every case in which they are decayed.
The most important contract that can be made, is that which takes place between a sick man and his doctor. The subject of it is human life. The breach of this contract, by willful negligence, when followed by death, is murder; and it is because our penal laws are imperfect, that the punishment of that crime is not inflicted upon physicians who are guilty of it.
Russell, Bertrand (on anesthesia and on wisdom)
It is a curious and painful fact that almost all the completely futile treatments that have been believed in during the long history of medical folly have been such as caused acute suffering to the patient. When anesthetics were discovered, pious people considered them an attempt to evade the will of God. It was pointed out, however, that when God extracted Adam's rib He put him into a deep sleep. This proved that anesthetics are all right for men; women, however, ought to suffer, because of the curse of Eve.
The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.
Sachs, Hans (a 16th century apothecary)
In my shop of drugs are stored
Many things of sweet accord,
Spices with sugar I combine,
Enemas and purges I divine.
To strengthen the weak and the sickly,
Refreshing draughts I furnish quickly.
All these with utmost care,
On prescriptions I prepare.
Salisbury, John of (a criticism of physicians)
The common people say that physicians are the class of people who kill other men in the most polite and courteous manner.
Saṃhitā, Súsruta (on physical examination)
...having entered the sick room the physician should view the body of the patient, palpate it with his hands, and inquire about his complaint...the five sense organs of hearing, touch, sight, smell and taste, as well as oral inquiry, materially contribute to a better diagnosis. By the sense of hearing we can...determine whether the contents of an abscess are frothy and gaseous, for the emptying of such is attended with noise. By the sense of touch we may know whether the skin is hot or cold, rough or smooth...By the sense of sight we can determine corpulence or emaciation, vital power...and change of colour. By the sense of taste we can assure ourselves concerning the state of the urine in diabetes...And by the sense of smell we can recognize the peculiar perspiration of many diseases.
Segovia, Andres (on the guitar)
The guitar is the most unpredictable and least reliable musical instrument in existence -- and also the sweetest, the warmest, the most delicate, whose melancholic voice awakes in our soul exquisite reveries.
Semmelweis, Ignaz (on puerperal fever)
Herr Professor (Spaeth), you have convinced me that the Puerperal Sun which arose in Vienna in the year 1847 has not enlightened your mind even though it shone so near to you…I bear the knowledge that since the year 1847 thousands and thousands of puerperal women and infants who have died would not have died had I not kept silent… And you, Herr Professor, have been a partner in this massacre.
Servetus, Michael (discovery of the pulmonary circulation)
This communication (of the right ventricle of the heart to the left) however, does not take place through the septum, partition, or midwall of the heart, as commonly believed, but by another admirable contrivance, the blood being transmitted from the pulmonary artery to the pulmonary vein, by a lengthened passage through the lungs, in the course of which it is elaborated and becomes of a crimson colour.
It is in the lungs, consequently, that the mixture (of the inspired air with the blood) takes place, and it is in the lungs also, not in the heart, that the crimson colour of the blood is acquired.
Seuss, Dr. (Theodor Seuss Geisel: a criticism of doctors, observations)
When at last we are sure you’ve been properly pilled, then a few paper forms must be properly filled, so that you and your heirs may be properly billed.
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.
Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.
Shakespeare William (on medicine and toothaches)
For there was never yet a philosopher that could endure the toothache patiently.
Throw physic to the dogs; I’ll none of it.
By medicine life may be prolong'd, yet death Will seize the Doctor too.
Shaw, George Bernard (a criticism of physicians)
- It is not the fault of our doctors that the medical service of the community, as at present provided for, is a murderous absurdity. That any sane nation, having observed that you could provide for the supply of bread by giving bakers a pecuniary interest in baking for you, should go on to give a surgeon a pecuniary interest in cutting off your leg, is enough to make one despair of political humanity. But that is precisely what we have done. And the more appalling the mutilation, the more the mutilator is paid. He who corrects the ingrowing toe-nail receives a few shillings: he who cuts your inside out receives hundreds of guineas, except when he does it to a poor person for practice
- Now it cannot be to often repeated that when an operation is once performed, nobody can ever prove that it was unnecessary. If I refuse to allow my leg to be amputated, its mortification and my death may prove that I was wrong; but if I let the leg go, nobody can ever prove that it would not have mortified had I been obstinate. Operation is therefore the safe side for the surgeon as well as the lucrative side.
- Optimistic lies have such immense therapeutic value that a doctor who cannot tell them convincingly has mistaken his profession.
- The notion that therapeutics or hygiene or surgery is any more or less scientific than making or cleaning boots is entertained only by people to whom a man of science is still a magician who can cure diseases, transmute metals, and enable us to live forever.
Smith, Sydney (on marriage)
Marriage resembles a pair of shears, so joined that they can not be separated, often moving in opposite directions, yet always punishing anyone who comes between them.
Smith, Walter Wellesley "Red" (the difficulty of writing)
There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.
Smith, William (regarding unlicensed physicians)
Few physicians amongst us are eminent for their skill. Quacks abound like Locusts in Egypt, and too many have recommended themselves to a full Practice and profitable subsistence. This is the less to be wondered at, as the Profession is under no Kind of Regulation. Loud as the call is, to our Shame be it remembered, we have no Law to protect the Lives of the King’s Subjects from the Malpractice of Pretenders. Any man at his Pleasure sets up for Physician, Apothecary and Chirurgeon. No candidates are either examined or licensed, or even sworn to fair practice.
Snow, John (the spread of cholera)
I found that nearly all the deaths had taken place within a short distance of the (water) pump. There were only ten deaths in houses situated decidedly nearer to another street pump. In five of these cases the families of the deceased persons informed me that they always sent to the pump in Broad Street, as they preferred the water to that of the pump which was nearer.
Sodeman, William (medical advances)
Born in mystery and superstition, burdened by ignorance, beset by quackery, overcome in its abortive attempts to progress, at times by the engulfment of civilizations in which a start upward had been made, held in check by political and spiritual thought at times for centuries, medicine has emerged from this long and at times seemingly fruitless struggle to become the world’s greatest boon to mankind.
Soemmering, Samuel Thomas von (smoking and cancer)
Carcinoma of the lips occurs most frequently where men indulge in pipe smoking; the lower lip is particularly affected by cancer when it is compressed between the tobacco pipe and the teeth.
Southey, Robert (a criticism of physicians)
Man is a dupable animal. Quacks in medicine, quacks in religion and quacks in politics know this and act upon that knowledge. The credulity of man is unfortunately too strong to resist the impudent assertions of the quack… Sickness humbles the pride of man, it forces upon him a sense of his own weakness, and teaches him to feel his dependence upon unseen Powers: that therefore which makes wise men devout, makes the ignorant superstitious. Among savages the physician and the conjurer are always the same. The operations of sickness and of healing are alike mysterious, and hence arises the predilection of many enthusiasts for quackery, and the ostentation which all quacks make of religion, or of some extraordinary power in themselves …They have nothing to recommend them but a consummate effrontery; and no other means of palming their pestiferous compounds upon the unwary, than groundless assurances, and insolent detraction.
Stevenson, Robert Louis (physician praise, and criticism)
There are men and classes of men that stand above the common herd: the soldier, the sailor, and the shepherd not infrequently; the artist rarely; rarelier still, the clergyman; the physician almost as a rule. He is the flower (such as it is) of our civilization; and when that stage of man is done with, and only to be marveled at in history, he will be thought to have shared as little as any in the defects of the period, and most notably exhibited the virtues of the race.
Doctors is all Swabs
Susruta (on Hindu medicine)
A physician who desires success in his practice, his own profit, a good name, and finally a place in heaven, must pray daily for all living creatures, first of the Brahmans and of the cow. The physician should wear his hair short, keep his nails clean and cut close, and wear a sweet-smelling dress. He should never leave the house without a cane or umbrella, he should avoid especially any familiarity with women. Let his speech be soft, clear, and pleasant. Transactions in the house should not be bruited abroad.
Swainson, Isaac (in defense of quacks)
In physic, all changes…have been forced on the regulars by the quacks, and all the great and powerful medicines are the discoveries of quacks. The introduction and improvements of inoculation: the use of mercury, antimony, opium, and the bark; like all the bold innovations in religion and policy, are owing to quacks. Benefits produce the bitterest ingratitude. The regulars adopted the discoveries, and persecuted their benefactors.
Swartzenegger, Arnold (on life)
Best fun is pumping and humping.
Having more money doesn't make you happier. I have 50 million dollars but I'm just as happy as when I had 48 million.
Swift, Jonathan (a criticism of physicians)
Apollo was held the God of Physick, and Sender of Diseases: Both were originally the same Trade, and still continue.
Sydenham, Thomas (on the practice of medicine)
- Nature, in the production of disease, is uniform and consistent, so much so, that for the same disease in different persons the symptoms are for the most part the same; and the selfsame phenomena that you would observe in the sickness of a Socrates you would observe in the sickness of a simpleton.
- In writing the history of a disease, every philosophical hypothesis whatsoever, that has previously occupied the mind of the author, should lie in abeyance. This being done, the clear and natural phenomena of the disease should be noted – these, and these only. They should be noted accurately, and in all their minuteness; in imitation of the exquisite industry of those painters who represent in their portraits the smallest moles and the faintest spots.
- Nothing in medicine is so insignificant as to merit inattention
- It is a great mistake to suppose that Nature always stands in need of the assistance of Art…nor do I think it below me to acknowledge that, when no manifest indication pointed out to me what was to be done, I have consulted the safety of my patient and my own reputation effectually by doing nothing at all.
- (on gout) The victim goes to bed and sleeps in good health. About two o’clock in the morning he is awakened by a severe pain in the great toe; more rarely in the heel, ankle, or instep. This pain is like that of a dislocation, and yet the parts feel as if cold water were poured over them…The night is passed in torture, sleeplessness, turning of the part affected, and perpetual change of posture.
Tagliacozzi, Gaspare (on plastic surgery)
We bring back, refashion, and restore to wholeness the features which nature gave but chance destroyed, not that they may charm the eye but that they may be an advantage to the living soul...
Tertullian (a view on the ethics of abortion)
To prevent the birth of a child is a quicker way (than abortion) to murder. It makes no difference whether one destroys a soul already born or interferes with its coming to birth. It is a human being and one who is to be a man, for the whole fruit is already present in the seed.
Thomas, Dylan (physician criticism)
When I take up assassination, I shall start with the surgeons in this city and work up to the gutter.
Thomas, Lewis (on scientific knowledge)
I cannot think of a single field in biology or medicine in which we can claim genuine understanding, and it seems to me the more we learn about living creatures, especially ourselves, the stranger life becomes.
John Harvey Kellogg, “The tobacco business is a conspiracy against womanhood and manhood. It owes its origin to that scoundrel Sir Walter Raleigh, who was likewise the founder of American slavery.”
Thomas Jefferson, “Tobacco is a culture of infinite wretchedness."
George Bernard Shaw, “A cigarette is a pinch of tobacco rolled in paper with fire at one end and a fool at the other.”
Mark Twain, “Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.”
Tolkien, J.R.R. (Gandalf in "Fellowship of the Ring")
All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.
Tolstoy, Leo (physician criticism in “War and Peace”)
He had what the doctors termed “bilious fever.” But in spite of the fact that they treated him, bled him and made him swallow drugs—he recovered.
Treves, Frederick (on infectious disease)
Owing to the suppurating wounds the stench in the wards was of a kind not easily forgotten. I can recall it to this day with unappreciated ease. There was one sponge to a ward. With this putrid article and a basin of once-clear water all the wounds in the ward were washed in turn twice a day. By this ritual any chance that a patient had of recovery was eliminated. I remember a whole ward being decimated by hospital gangrene.
Lister created anew the ancient art of healing; he made reality of the hope which had for all time sustained the surgeon’s endeavors; he removed the impenetrable cloud which had stood for centuries between great principles and successful practice; and he rendered possible a treatment which had hitherto been but the vision of a dreamer. The nature of his discovery – like that of most movements – was splendid in its simplicity and magnificent in its littleness. To the surgeon’s craft it was but the ‘one thing needful.’ With it came the promise of a wondrous future; without it was the hopelessness of an impotent past.
Tura, Agnolo di (a personal view of the plague)
Father abandoned child, wife, husband, one brother another for this illness seemed to strike through the breath and sight. And so they die. And none could be found to bury the dead for money or friendship. Members of a household brought their dead to a ditch as best they could. Without priest, without divine offices great pits were dug and piled deep with the multitude dead. And they died by the hundreds, both day and night. And as soon as those ditches were filled, more were dug. And I, Agnolo di Tura, called the Fat, buried my five children with my own hands. And there were also those who were so sparsely covered with earth that the dogs dragged them forth and devoured many bodies throughout the city. There was no one who wept for any death for all awaited death and so many died that they all believed that it was the end of the world.
Twain, Mark (Samuel Clemens and physician criticism)
(on placebo effect) No one doubts – certainly not I – that the mind exercises a powerful influence over the body. From the beginning of time, the sorcerer, the interpreter of dreams, the fortuneteller, the charlatan, quack, the wild medicine-man, the educated physician, the mesmerist, and the hypnotist, have made use of the client’s imagination to help them in their work…Physicians…know that where the disease is only a fancy, the patients confidence in the doctor will make the bread pill effective.
It's easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.
(on physician/patient communication) Without going too much into detail, madam – for you would probably not understand it anyway – great care is going to be necessary here; otherwise exudation of the aesophagus is nearly sure to ensue, and this will be followed by ossification and extradition of the maxillaries superioris, which must decompose the granular surfaces of the great infusorial ganglionic system, thus obstructing the action of the posterior varioloid arteries and precipitating compound strangulated sorosis of the valvular tissues, and ending unavoidably in the dispersion and combustion of the marsupial fluxes and the consequent embrocation of the bicuspid populo redax referendum rotulorum.
He had had much experience of physicians, and said “the only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d druther not.”
Man is a museum of diseases, a home of impurities; he comes today and is gone tomorrow; he begins as dirt and departs as stench.
(life advice) It's not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog.
Venner, Tobias (on smoking)
Tobacco drieth the brain, dimmeth the sight, vitiateth the smell, hurteth the stomach, destroyeth the concoction, disturbeth the humors and spirits, corrupteth the breath, induceth a trembling of the limbs, exsiccateth the windpipe, lungs, and liver, annoyeth the miolt, scorcheth the heart, and causeth the blood to be adjustd.
Ventura, Jessie “the body” (life advice from “The Predator”)
I ain't got time to bleed.
Vesalius, Andreas (on Galen’s anatomic studies)
How much has been attributed to Galen, easily leader of the professors of dissection, by those physicians and anatomists who have followed him, and often against reason!...there is that blessed and wonderful plexus reticularis which that man everywhere inculcates in his books. There is nothing of which physicians speak more often. They have never seen it (for it is almost non-existent in the human body), yet they describe it from Galen’s teaching. Indeed, I myself cannot wonder enough at my own stupidity and too great trust in the writings of Galen and other anatomists.
Vinci, Leonardo de (physician criticism, and anatomy)
Strive to preserve your health; and in this you will the better succeed in proportion as you keep clear of the physicians, for their drugs are a kind of alchemy concerning which there are no fewer books than there are medicines.
(on arteriosclerosis) Veins which by the thickening of their tunicles in the old restrict the passage of the blood, and by this lack of nourishment destroy their life without any fever, the old coming to fail little by little in slow death.
The function of muscle is to pull and not to push except in the case of the genitals and the tongue.
Virchow, Rudolf Ludwig Karl (the cellular basis of life)
Where a cell arises, there a cell must have previously existed (omnis cellula e cellula), just as an animal can spring only from an animal, a plant from a plant.
Medical practice is nothing but a minor offshoot of pathological physiology as developed in laboratories of animal experimentation.
Voltaire (physician criticism)
Doctors are men who prescribe medicines of which they know little, to cure diseases of which they know less, in human beings of whom they know nothing.
Why then, asked the Syrian, do you quote this Aristotle in Greek? It is, the learned man replied, because it is wiser to quote that which one does not understand at all, in the language that one comprehends least.
But nothing is more estimable than a physician who, having studied nature from his youth, knows the properties of the human body, the diseases which assail it, the remedies which will benefit it, exercises his art with caution, and pays equal attention to the rich and the poor.
Walpole, Horace (philosophy)
The world is a comedy to those who think, a tragedy to those who feel.
Walton, Bill (the risk of surgery)
I learned a long time ago that minor surgery is when they do the operation on someone else, not you.
Warren, John Collins (on anesthesia)
A new era has opened on the operating surgeon. His visitations on the most delicate parts are performed, not only without the agonizing screams he has been accustomed to hear, but sometimes in a state of perfect insensibility, and, occasionally, even with an expression of pleasure on the part of the patient.
Who could have imagined that drawing a knife over the delicate skin of the face, might produce a sensation of unmixed delight? That the turning and twisting of instruments in the most sensitive bladder, might be accompanied by a delightful dream? That the contorting of anchylosed joints should coexist with a celestial vision? If Ambrose Paré, and Louis, and Dessault, and Cheselden, and Hunter, and Cooper, could see what our eyes daily witness, how they would long to come among us, and perform their exploits once more…
Webb-Johnstone, Robert (on neurosis and physician criticism)
A neurotic is the man who builds a castle in the air. A psychotic is the man who lives in it. And a psychiatrist is the man who collects the rent.
Wilde, Oscar (life advice)
- Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about.
- I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.
- Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.
- Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.
- The old believe everything, the middle-aged suspect everything, the young know everything.
- (when informed of a large surgical fee) Ah, well then, I suppose that I shall have to die beyond my means.
- Ordinary riches can be stolen, real riches cannot.
- I can resist anything but temptation.
- I wrote when I did not know life; now that I do know the meaning of life, I have no more to write. Life cannot be written; life can only be lived.
- The tragedy of old age is not that one is old, but that one is young.
Wilson, Earl (on prescriptions)
You may not be able to read a doctor's handwriting and prescription, but you'll notice his bills are neatly typewritten.
Wilson, George (on amputation prior to anesthesia)
Of the agony it occasioned, I will say nothing. Suffering so great as I underwent cannot be expressed in words…The particular pangs are now forgotten; but the black whirlwind of emotion, the horror of great darkness, and the sense of desertion by God and man, bordering close upon despair, which swept through my mind and overwhelmed my heart, I can never forget, however gladly I would do so…
Withering, William (“An Account of the Foxglove”)
I was told that it had long been kept a secret by an old woman in Shropshire, who had sometimes made cures after the more regular practitioners had failed. I was informed that the effects produced were violent vomiting and purging; for the diuretic effects seemed to have been overlooked. The medication was compounded of twenty or more different herbs; but it was not very difficult for one conversant with these subjects to perceive that the active herb could be no other than foxglove.
Woodward, Theodore E. (on differential diagnoses)
When you hear hoof beats, don’t expect to see zebras.
Xiong, Shing (life advice)
In the end, it’s not going to matter how many breaths you took, but how many moments took your breath away.
Youngman, Henny (medical humor)
- I was so ugly when I was born, the doctor slapped my mother.
- I told the doctor I broke my leg in two places. He told me to quit going to those places.
- This guy asked his doctor, "Will I be able to play the piano after my operation?" And the doctor says "Sure." And the guy says, "Funny, I couldn't do it before."
- When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading.
- A doctor gave this guy 6 months to live. When he couldn't pay his bills, he gave him another 6 months.
- A man goes to psychiatrist. The doctor says, "You're crazy." The man says, "I want a second opinion!" "Okay you're ugly too!"
- It's not true that married men live longer than single men. It only seems longer.
Zinsser, Hans (the devastation of infectious disease)
Swords, lances, arrows, machine guns, and even high explosives have had a far less power over the fates of nations than the typhus louse, the plague flea, and the yellow-fever mosquito. Civilizations have retreated from the plasmodium of malaria, and armies have crumbled into rabbles under the onslaught of cholera spirilla, or the dysentery and typhoid bacilli. Huge areas have been devastated by the trypanosome that travels on the wings of the tsetse fly, and generations have been harassed by the syphilis of a courtier. War and conquest and that herd existence which is an accompaniment of what we call civilization have merely set the stage for these more powerful agents of human tragedy.