Reviews Book

Bad Medicine: Doctors Doing Harm Since Hippocrates

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.333.7568.606 (Published 14 September 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:606
  1. Iain McClure, consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist (imcclure@nhs.net)
  1. Vale of Leven Hospital, Alexandria

    Irecently read George Bernard Shaw's The Doctor's Dilemma and experienced an unexpected sense of insult on behalf of my profession. In this celebrated play (see also Editor's choice, BMJ 2 September 2006 (doi: 10.1136/bmj.333.7566.0-f)), Shaw serially indicts various kinds of late 19th century doctor—the hypocrite, the self publicist, and (most dangerous of all) the blinkered zealot. While I admired the plot construction, I suspected that Shaw had created such character extremes for comic effect. However, having read David Wootton's Bad Medicine, I am now no longer insulted and, on behalf of my profession, feel somewhat grateful to Shaw for his restraint. For, as Wootton painstakingly argues in this short but undoubtedly explosive new book, the history of medicine has been nothing less than a failure and doctors have been the culprits.


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    David Wootton

    Oxford University Press, £16.99, pp 320 ISBN-10: 0 19 280355 7 ISBN-13: 978 0 19 280355 9

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    Although Bad Medicine is short, Wootton has written “three books in one.” In the first part he surveys a tradition of therapy that survived for 2300 …

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