While I was reading the assigned chapters of the book Soul Made Flesh (Zimmer, 2004) for class this past week, I came upon the story of the physician Thomas Sydenham. He was particularly good at making careful bedside observations while he was treating patients. In fact, he made the observation that diseases acted the same in everyone, and they were not unique to an individual. He made careful notes on disease symptoms, and even suggested that perhaps diseases should be treated as if they are individual species.
Sydenham’s work turned out to be controversial, because when prescribing a treatment, sometimes he would not use the traditional one, but instead would experiment with different treatments. Other physicians wanted to get his license revoked because his experimentation outraged them, even though Sydenham documented which treatments seemed to work better. We discussed this a bit in class, but I want to know why his new treatments were so controversial. If he devised his treatments in a manner that seemed logical, and he had experimental evidence to back it up, why was there such resistance? Is it perhaps that people could not accept that traditional treatments really did not work, and that they may now be responsible for the deaths of many people that could have been saved? Or is it simply a matter of people not being able to accept that things change?