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Private Practice

, 320 pages

10 halftones, 1 line drawing

May 2005



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Private Practice

In the Early Twentieth-Century Medical Office of Dr. Richard Cabot

Open Access Edition Available at Project MUSE

The beginning of the twentieth century marked the rise of advanced medical technologies, allowing doctors to diagnose and treat diseases in new ways. Although American physicians accepted the validity of the new science of medicine, they were sometimes reluctant to trust technology over their professional judgment or intuition. Likewise, patients raised their own suspicions about the new scientific tools, sometimes resisting or contradicting the advice of their physicians.

Here Christopher Crenner examines a critical period in medical history, focusing on the office practice of Boston physician Richard Cabot. Intimate epistolary exchanges between Cabot and his patients shed light on the challenges presented by the new technologies—especially their impact on the personal relationships between doctor and patient—providing insight into a time of expanding science and radical change.

Christopher Crenner is chair of the Department of History and Philosophy of Medicine and an associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Kansas School of Medicine.

"A solid work of history, a book that will engage readers from a wide range of disciplines and perspectives, a book that will stand as a significant contribution to the history of medicine."

"A sensitive study of medical practice at that special moment, early in the twentieth century, when the promise of science to expose and cure hidden disease meant that physician authority was on the rise. Anchored in careful reading of a rich manuscript source, Crenner provides a first-rate analysis of one prominent clinician's private practice within its scientific, social, and cultural context. The author's skills as historian and physician offer surprising new insights into things that we tend to take for granted in present practice of both medicine and history."

"A fascinating study of elite medicine at a pivotal moment. Crenner illuminates the shift to a more self-consciously 'scientific' style of practice, through a finely textured analysis of Richard Cabot's meticulously detailed casebooks."

"A fine book, an engaging example of the best sort of contemporary history... Crenner has provided as much material for the historian as for the historically minded physician... rigorously researched and fascinating."

"An important reference for readers who are interested in the intellectual and organizational contributions of Richard Cabot... of interest to all who would enjoy an elegant look back at the pathways by which modern medicine has developed."

"An informative book."

"Private Practice is solid scholarship, a model for students of medical history, a significant contribution for medical historians, and an inspiration for further research."

"An important book, thoroughly researched and documented... Readers interested in the sociology of medicine will find that Cabot's private practice yields new insights."

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