Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Primitive Medicine

Primitive Medicine
The fundamental tenet of primitive or supernaturalistic medicine is the belief that diseases and their cure depend on religion and/or magical agents.

This, although characteristics of primitive cultures, is not limited to them and a rule, coexists in advance societies with the naturalistic approach, both scientific and non-scientific.

Therefore when prefer to primitive or supernaturalistic medicine in modern times, it refers not only to the medicine practiced in some contemporary developing societies but also to medical practices and beliefs that exists in the most advanced.

Primitive medicine is timeless, the elements of primitive medicine may be found in all societies, at all times, in the ancient Orient as well a in Greece, in the Middle Ages as well as in the midst of our modern industrial society.

Primitive medicine is a logical structure once its premises are accepted.

When formulated in prehistoric times, those premises were the necessary result of man’s need to explain, coupled with his lack of technical knowledge.

Primitive man had a clear concept of causality: if something took place, there was always a responsible agent.

On the other hand, primitive man, most probably, had no clear idea of chance that is of unwilled events that could occur in a purely random basis.

If primitive man had no concept of chance and randomness, by necessity, for him, every event was willed, every occurrence had a purpose and a meaning.

As a result his ignorance of other possible explanatory factors made a world view based on religion and magic the only one possible.

Supernaturalistic medicine is simply part of such a world view. If disease struck a vigorous warrior, of if his wound did not heal, or if a child withered and died in spite of sufficient food and shelter, an explanation had to be sought.

The options were few: either an enemy, or a god or a spirit had to be responsible.

As a rule, with time, supernaturalistic explanations become unsatisfactorily and naturalistic one are sought.

The latter however, are not necessarily based n a better understanding of phenomenon; for example, to hold that thunder is due to underground winds is not more accurate than to believe that it is due to the barreling chariot of a god.

This applies, of course to medicine as well and for this reason, naturalistic medicine of effectiveness.

Primitive medicine is timeless probably because the naturalistic kind, for so long, was not appreciably more effective.
In spite of a timelessness, however, it is expedient to distinguish the primitive medicine of antiquity from that practice in modern times.
Primitive Medicine

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