Views & Reviews Past caring

Heads you lose

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 26 July 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:212
  1. Wendy Moore, freelance writer and author, London
  1. wendymoore{at}

    Ever since Hippocrates supposedly uttered the injunction “First do no harm,” doctors have been inextricably associated with squandering lives in the name of political and religious ideology. From the Alexandrian anatomists who dissected living convicts in the 4th century BC to the Nazi Physicians' League, doctors have bent their talents to state-sponsored murder.

    None, however, has contributed more to the cause of terror—albeit unintentionally—than the well meaning French physician Dr Joseph Ignace Guillotin. A respected doctor with a lucrative practice in pre-revolutionary Paris, Guillotin was a professor of the Paris Faculty …

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