Evolution of Sickness and Healing

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University of California Press, 1997 - Social Science - 364 pages
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Evolution of Sickness and Healing is a theoretical work on the grand scale, an original synthesis of many disciplines in social studies of medicine. Looking at human sickness and healing through the lens of evolutionary theory, Horacio F;brega, Jr. presents not only the vulnerability to disease and injury but also the need to show and communicate sickness and to seek and provide healing as innate biological traits grounded in evolution. This linking of sickness and healing, as inseparable facets of a unique human adaptation developed during the evolution of the hominid line, offers a new vantage point from which to examine the institution of medicine.
To show how this complex, integrated adaptation for sickness and healing lies at the root of medicine, and how it is expressed culturally in relation to the changing historical contingencies of human societies, F;brega traces the characteristics of sickness and healing through the early and later stages of social evolution. Besides offering a new conceptual structure and a methodology for analyzing medicine in evolutionary terms, he shows the relevance of this approach and its implications for the social sciences and for medical policy. Health scientists and medical practitioners, along with medical historians, economists, anthropologists, and sociologists, now have the opportunity to consider every essential aspect of medicine within an integrated framework. Evolution of Sickness and Healing is a theoretical work on the grand scale, an original synthesis of many disciplines in social studies of medicine. Looking at human sickness and healing through the lens of evolutionary theory, Horacio F;brega, Jr. presents not only the vulnerability to disease and injury but also the need to show and communicate sickness and to seek and provide healing as innate biological traits grounded in evolution. This linking of sickness and healing, as inseparable facets of a unique human adaptation developed during the evolution of the hominid line, offers a new vantage point from which to examine the institution of medicine.
To show how this complex, integrated adaptation for sickness and healing lies at the root of medicine, and how it is expressed culturally in relation to the changing historical contingencies of human societies, F;brega traces the characteristics of sickness and healing through the early and later stages of social evolution. Besides offering a new conceptual structure and a methodology for analyzing medicine in evolutionary terms, he shows the relevance of this approach and its implications for the social sciences and for medical policy. Health scientists and medical practitioners, along with medical historians, economists, anthropologists, and sociologists, now have the opportunity to consider every essential aspect of medicine within an integrated framework.
 

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About the author (1997)

Horacio Fábrega Jr., M.D., is Professor of Psychiatry and Anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh. He is author of Disease and Social Behavior (1980) and, with Daniel Silver, Illness and Shamanistic Curing in Zinacantan (1973).

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