History of Medicine

History 103S.002

Fall 2013
Day & Time: 
W 12-2P

This seminar will address how medicine has affected society by attempting to eradicate disease and treat patients. In this popular endeavor, increasing scientific knowledge, its categorical formulations and its recommendations allowed for significant professional power. At the same time, the profession willingly participated in the standardization of medical education and the certification of qualified physicians, a process that required the imprimatur of the state and prompted a continuing relationship between government and medicine. This relationship encouraged globalization and empire and had a worldwide affect on health. Often it was beneficial as in the administration of public health, but sometimes it was self-serving and highly damaging. As scientific knowledge and technology proliferated the doctor-patient relationship altered and invited public scrutiny provoking consumer advocacy, health activism, and patients' rights. Largely beneficial social activism also sanctioned self-directed medical care that was often ill conceived and fostered an abuse of malpractice suits.  However, medical science has not been without its misconceptions leading to damaging theories of degeneration, race, gender and sexuality. At present, for better or worse, even its role in declining mortality is being questioned.

Fredric Mintz, M.D., PhD practiced cardiology in San Francisco for 32 years. During that period he also served as an associate clinical professor of medicine at the UCSF medical school and as the president of both the San Francisco and California Heart Associations. In 2009 he obtained his PhD in History at UC Berkeley. His primary work has been on the framing of miner's lung disease in nineteenth century Britain and the long struggle to enforce prevention and award compensation for this industrially acquired disease.