Article ID: CBB088329294

Discussing Patients in Private and in Print: The Records of an Eighteenth-Century Dispensary (2023)


This essay studies the variation between the ways in which physicians wrote about their patients in private and their presentation of these case histories to the wider world in print. Focusing particularly on the case of Andrew Duncan, who founded the Edinburgh Public Dispensary in 1776, this paper will investigate the differences detailed in Duncan's handwritten case notes with the ways in which he chose to portray these patient cases in his published works. This paper will argue that not only does Duncan demonstrate a tendency to exaggerate the positive outcomes from his treatments but also his published works simplify the diagnoses performed on dispensary patients. The self-editing which is apparent in his medical publishing includes the omission of details of the range of complaints individual patients suffer from and exclusion of certain disease categories, including hysteria, from the printed record. This paper will argue that a historiographical focus on printed material such as disease studies and annual reports can result in the distortion of information regarding diagnosis, medical outcomes, and the relationship between patient and practitioner during the eighteenth century.

Included in

Article Ashleigh Blackwood; Helen Williams (2023) Writing Doctors and Writing Health in the Long Eighteenth Century. Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies (pp. 3-20). unapi

Citation URI

Similar Citations

Book Chalmers, John; (2010)
Andrew Duncan Senior: Physician of the Enlightenment (/isis/citation/CBB001230283/)

Chapter Catherine Jones; (2014)
Benjamin Rush, Edinburgh Medicine and the Rise of Physician Autobiography (/isis/citation/CBB761857808/)

Book Hanna Hodacs; Stéphane Van Damme; Kenneth Nyberg; (2018)
Linnaeus, Natural History and the Circulation of Knowledge (/isis/citation/CBB833759855/)

Article Eddy, Matthew D.; (2006)
The Fabric of the Globe: Chemistry and Geology in Enlightenment Edinburgh (/isis/citation/CBB000741383/)

Book McCrae, Morrice; (2007)
Physicians and Society: A History of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (/isis/citation/CBB000930551/)

Article Emerson, Roger L.; (2004)
The Founding of the Edinburgh Medical School (/isis/citation/CBB000774437/)

Article Atiyah, Michael; (2006)
Benjamin Franklin and the Edinburgh Enlightenment (/isis/citation/CBB001232056/)

Article Eddy, Matthew Daniel; (2014)
How to See a Diagram: A Visual Anthropology of Chemical Affinity (/isis/citation/CBB001550415/)

Book Allen, David Elliston; (2001)
Naturalists and Society: The Culture of Natural History in Britain, 1700-1900 (/isis/citation/CBB000100994/)

Article Nenadic, Stana; (2012)
Architect-Builders in London and Edinburgh, c. 1750--1800, and the Market for Expertise (/isis/citation/CBB001212670/)

Article Mariola Espinosa; (2014)
The Question of Racial Immunity to Yellow Fever in History and Historiography (/isis/citation/CBB232506989/)

Article Finocchiaro, Maurice A.; (2011)
A Galilean Approach to the Galileo Affair, 1609--2009 (/isis/citation/CBB001032222/)

Authors & Contributors
Emerson, Roger L.
Eddy, Matthew D.
Nyberg, Kenneth
Jenkins, Bill
Bow, Charles Bradford
Oldroyd, David Roger
Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences
Social Science History
Social History of Medicine
Science and Education
Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society
Osiris: A Research Journal Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
Voltaire Foundation
University of California, Los Angeles
National Museums of Scotland
John Donald
Edinburgh University Press
Ashgate Publishing
Societies; institutions; academies
Natural history
Medical schools
Historical method
Walker, John
Rush, Benjamin
Pitcairne, Archibald
Linnaeus, Carolus
Galilei, Galileo
Franklin, Benjamin
Time Periods
18th century
19th century
17th century
20th century, early
20th century
Edinburgh (Scotland)
South Asia
Glasgow (Scotland)
Leiden (Netherlands)
University of Edinburgh
Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
University of St. Andrews
University of Glasgow

Be the first to comment!

{{ comment.created_by.username }} on {{ comment.created_on | date:'medium' }}

Log in or register to comment