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Medicine and Spirituality: A Historical Perspective 

Medicine and Spirituality: A Historical Perspective
Chapter:
Medicine and Spirituality: A Historical Perspective
Author(s):

Gary B. Ferngren

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780190272432.003.0019
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date: 05 December 2020

This essay traces the development of professional medicine and medical philanthropy over more than two millennia. It attempts to provide some understanding of how traditional medical care took shape and how religion came to play an essential supporting role in the healing process before it gave way to cultural shifts and scientific and technological advancements that in the last two centuries have largely eliminated spiritual values from medicine. I shall argue that the elimination of religion and the growth of professionalization in all areas of medicine have unintentionally weakened the element of compassion in patient care. As a result the healing process has been transformed in a way that our ancestors of even three or four generations ago would hardly have recognized it.

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