Monday, April 10, 2006

Medicinal Stoicism in the Middle Ages

Providence Journal columnist (and M.D.) Stanley M. Aronson writes about medical care in the Middle Ages:
Medicine in the 14th Century was a struggling secular enterprise, standing in opposition to both the widely held reliance upon religious healing and the stoic acceptance of the world as it is. Certainly the power of the saints to heal was commonly accepted, and many religious pilgrimages were motivated, at least in part, by the desire to cure illnesses that everyday medicine had not cured. Stoicism, in the centuries following the Dark Ages, offered an intelligent avoidance of those things that might harm one's body, while impassively affirming the inevitability of life's travails, ailments, declines and death. It was primitive preventive medicine, quite stoical, which, to this day, offers some merit.
Even back then, it was a good idea to stay away from the sick if you wanted to stay healthy. See, even in the "Dark Ages," a little common sense could save your life.

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