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Title: Physiological and biological thinking in late nineteenth-century English medicine with reference to Clifford Allbutt
Author: Leung, D. C. K.
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2007
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Individual physicians' medical thinking is one of the aspects which has not been fully explored in the present historiography of English medicine. In this thesis, I examine the medical thought of Clifford Allbutt who was Regius Professor of Physic at Cambridge University from 1892 to 1925. He was the designer of the 3-inch thermometer that we use today and was an advocate of the use of the ophthalmoscope in general medicine, the integration of medicine with surgery and the basic sciences, the physiological concept of disease, and comparative pathology. I argue that all these projects were concerted efforts to make medicine a biological science and they were guided by Allbutt's physiological and biological thinking. I examine Allbutt's medical thinking under three headings: (1) medical generalism, (2) the concept of disease, and (3) comparative pathology. In chapter two, I discuss how Allbutt attempted to make late nineteenth-century English clinical medicine an on-going research enterprise, through his own experience in ophthalmic and thermometric research. In chapter three, I discuss Allbutt's protest against the divorce of physic and surgery and his advocacy of the hospital unit system. My discussions in these two chapters will explain Allbutt's medical generalism. Chapter four looks at Allbutt's criticism of the concept of disease as a morbid entity and his argument for the physiological notion. I explore the historical background of Allbutt's view and explain how he used history to support his claims. Chapter five is devoted to Allbutt's advocacy of comparative pathology. I explain Allbutt's criticism of what he called 'anthropocentric medicine' and discuss how he integrated medicine and biology with an evolutionist framing of comparative pathology. Through my discussion, Allbutt's achievements can be understood in a new light and I also aim to complement the received image of scientific medicine with a more biologically focused character.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available