Lessons from our past

Thanks to Holly Tucker from Wonders and Marvels for re-stimulating my love of medical history. There is a wealth of information hidden in chronicles from the past – with much of it still pertinent to medicine today. Just wanted to share the concluding statement from an dissertation on gout by William Cadogan (1711 – 1797).

William Cadogan was the last physician in my family, prior to my graduating at the end of the last century. The 200 years of non-medical education is probably based on the fact that William Cadogan was ‘dismissed’ from the Royal College of Physicians for his thoughts and observations on Gout and on breast feeding.

Cadogan had suffered from gout for many years, and the book is based upon his personal observations. He believed that gout was not hereditary, seasonal, or curable, but was due to over eating, indolence, vexation, and intemperance. He recommended rational principles of diet and exercise, emphasizing a common sense approach to the management of gout. Despite the great popularity of the book, Cadogan was widely attacked and harshly criticized by those who disagreed with him (mainly those wealthy enough to eat venison and drink port!).

There are some fascinating quotes from the dissertation – but it is the conclusion I am drawn to…

Thus I have endeavored to set forth the real causes of chronic diseases in general and the true principles of convalescence, health and longevity. If I have hazarded anything new, or contrary to received opinions, it has been from a thorough conviction of it’s truth, however dangerous to fame and fortune; both which I know are more easily acquired by complying with the world, than attempting to reform it: but it must be somebody equally indifferent to both, as I am, who will venture to tell such truths as are more likely to recoil and hurt the author, than to convince and conciliate the bulk of mankind.

William Cadogan 1772: 100

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Emergency physician MA (Oxon) MBChB (Edin) FACEM FFSEM with a passion for rugby; medical history; medical education; and informatics. Asynchronous learning #FOAMed evangelist. Co-founder and CTO of Life in the Fast lane | Eponyms | Books | vocortex |

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