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Sanders, T. (1949). Social Medicine. Its Derivatives and Objectives: Edited by Iago Galdston, M.D. New York: The Commonwealth Fund, 1949. 294 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 18:395-396.

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(1949). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 18:395-396

Social Medicine. Its Derivatives and Objectives: Edited by Iago Galdston, M.D. New York: The Commonwealth Fund, 1949. 294 pp.

Review by:
Theodore Sanders

In 1947, in anticipation of its centennial celebration, the New York Academy of Medicine sponsored an Institute on Social Medicine. The idea was an outgrowth of the Academy's Committee on Medicine and the Changing Order, which had explored the social impact of the accelerating accumulation of more and more scientific data. The effect of increasing specialization and new techniques upon the art of medicine has been to blur the social, economic, and other environmental factors in illness so as to make them virtually nonexistent to the average physician. Seeking a balance between science and life, the Academy invited authorities to contribute and exchange ideas from those branches of the humanities closely related to clinical medicine. The fruits of this symposium are the provocative essays being reviewed.

This book is a sociological history of medicine. It discusses social pathology and differentiates it from clinical and preventive medicine. The application of psychiatry to social medicine occupies two sections, the second presenting its applications to childhood, adolescence, the family, and society in general. The final chapter, Social Medicine: The Appeal to the Common Man, is by Lord Horder.

In an illuminating foreword, Dr. George Baehr points out that in England, in some of the large medical schools, there is a chair of social medicine. In America, 'social medicine is everybody's business but nobody's responsibility'. To define social medicine and distinguish it from clinical medicine and public health is well-nigh impossible. One might say that it is the interrelation of individual health and illness to larger groups—the family, industry or occupation, economic or ethnic groups, the community, the nation, and ultimately the world.

Social medicine is the antithesis of specialization. The latter focuses on an organ or organ system and often loses sight of the body as a whole. The domain of social pathology is the impact of the sick individual on a larger entity and vice versa. Clinical examples familiar enough to those interested in psychodynamics are the type factors which sometimes contribute to the causes of peptic ulcer, hyperthyroidism, and hypertension.

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