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Thorough, enjoyable, and rigorous, this study documents the major "unconventional" healing movements of 19th- and 20th-century America. Whorton (history of medicine, Univ. of Washington) traces the origins and influences of Thomsonianism, homeopathy, mesmerism, Christian Science, osteopathy, chiropractic, naturopathy, and acupuncture, briefly discussing therapeutic touch, visualization, and prayer as well. The author also examines the rancorous history of medical licensing in the United States and leaves the reader with a sense that 21st-century healthcare will allow for a more conciliatory system of integrative medicine. He focuses on organized healing traditions and therefore does not examine the recent trend toward mass-market teas, supplements, herbal remedies, and other now-routine household therapies. This book fills a large gap left since the publication of Norman Gevitz's 1988 collection of essays, Other Healers: Unorthodox Medicine in America. Highly recommended for academic and public libraries.
Andy Wickens, King Cty. Lib. Syst., Seattle
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Medical historian Whorton's review of some two centuries of alternative medicine in the U.S. addresses many subjects whose names are familiar today, such as homeopathy, osteopathy, chiropractic, acupuncture, and Christian Science, and also some whose monickers and import are utterly strange, such as Thomsonianism, hydrotherapy, mesmerism, and eclecticism. The terms that "regular" medicine has applied to these "irregular" methods, evolving from "medical cultism" to "alternative medicine" to "complementary medicine," make clear the rising status of at least some of them. Whorton describes their theoretical backgrounds and marketing techniques (they often presented themselves as less violent therapies than such regular practices as, say, blood-letting). He graphically describes the practitioners and followers of each nonstandard therapeutic as well as selected treatments and their results. This well-documented history ministers to the realization that, as Whorton puts it, "There is nothing less scientific than making up your mind on a subject about which you know next to nothing." So read it and know. William Beatty
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