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Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there also is love of humanity. ~ Hippocrates

Medicine is the art and science of healing.


  • Change in our views seems to be a phenomenon, and in no science has the maxim: "Much arises which has already perished, and what is now honored is already declining," attained such extended verification as in the very science of medicine. Even so in this same science has been proven the truth of that other saying: "As long at man struggles he errs". To err in its struggles after the truth is, however, according to the resigned expression of Lessing, the portion of humanity, and absolute truth is of God alone.
  • Medicine is a science which hath been... more professed than laboured, and yet more laboured than advanced: the labour having been, in my judgment, rather in circle than in progression. For I find much iteration but small addition. It considereth causes of diseases, with the occasions or impulsions; the diseases themselves, with the accidents; and the cures with the preservations. The deficiencies which I think good to note being a few of many, and those such as are of a more open and manifest nature, I will enumerate, and not place.
    • Francis Bacon, The Proficience and Advancement of Learning Divine and Human, 2nd Book to the King (1605) English Tr. Francis Headlam, translation revised by James Spedding, The Philosophical Works of Francis Bacon (1905) p. 105
  • Our world is one of terrible contradictions. Plenty of food but one billion people go hungry. Lavish lifestyles for a few, but poverty for too many others. Huge advances in medicine while mothers die everyday in childbirth . . . Billions spent on weapons to kill people instead of keeping them safe.
  • I find the medicine worse than the malady.
  • MEDICINE, n. A stone flung down the Bowery to kill a dog in Broadway.
  • Medicine, guarded too by preliminary impediments, and frightful medusa-heads of quackery, which deter many generous souls from entering, is of the half-articulate professions, and does not much invite the ardent kinds of ambition. The intellect required for medicine might be wholly human, and indeed should by all rules be,—the profession of the Human Healer being radically a sacred one and connected with the highest priesthoods, or rather being itself the outcome and acme of all priesthoods, and divinest conquests of intellect here below. As will appear one day, when men take off their old monastic and ecclesiastic spectacles, and look with eyes again! In essence the Physician's task is always heroic, eminently human: but in practice most unluckily at present we find it too become in good part beaverish,—yielding a money-result alone. And what of it is not beaverish,—does not that too go mainly to ingenious talking, publishing of yourself, ingratiating of yourself; a partly human exercise or waste of intellect, and, alas, a partly vulpine ditto;—making the once sacred... Human Healer, more impossible for us than ever!
  • History is replete with examples of what happens when any group of authorities do not have to answer to empirical evidence but are free to define truth as they see fit. None of the examples has a happy ending. Why should it be otherwise with therapy?
    • Robert Todd Carroll, The Skeptic's Dictionary, entry on "repressed memory therapy (RMT)".
  • The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will instruct his patient in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.
    • This has been reprinted many times with slight variations on the wording; it is part of a much larger quote directly from Edison published in 1903:
Nineteen hundred and three will bring great advances in surgery, in the study of bacteria, in the knowledge of the cause and prevention of disease. Medicine is played out. Every new discovery of bacteria shows us all the more convincingly that we have been wrong and that the million tons of stuff we have taken was all useless.
The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will instruct his patient in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.
They may even discover the germ of old age. I don't predict it, but it might be by the sacrifice of animal life human life could be prolonged.
Surgery, diet, antiseptics — these three are the vital things of the future in preserving the health of humanity. There were never so many able, active minds at work on the problems of diseases as now, and all their discoveries are tending to the simple truth — that you can't improve on nature.
  • Thomas Edison as quoted in "Wizard Edison" in The Newark Advocate (2 January 1903), p. 1 according to research by Barbara and David P. Mikkelson at
  • The ignorance and general incompetency of the average graduate of the American medical Schools, at the time when he receives the degree which turns him loose upon the community, is something horrible to contemplate.
    • Charles Eliot, President of Harvard University (1869). In response to this call for reform, Harvard Professor of Surgery Harold Bigelow replied "He actually proposes to have written examinations for the degree of doctor of medicine. I had to tell him that he knew nothing about the quality of Harvard medical students. More than half of them can barely write. Of course they can't pass written examinations...No medical school has thought it proper to risk large existing classes and larger receipts by introducing more rigorous standards".
  • Medicine is founded upon the nature and constitution of man, physically and psychically, in all his phases of existence, and must necessarily be related to all the sciences, with scarcely an exception; since man is a microcosm of the universe, and science and philosophy are exponents of his relation thereto. This is the foundation of Aristotle's epigrammatic phrase: "The philosopher should end with medicine; the physician commence with philosophy."
    • David Allyn Gorton, The History of Medicine, Philosophical and Critical (1910) Vol. 1
  • Fictional medical programs have long been a staple of television drama. In the 1960s and 1970s, television doctor heroes such as Dr. Kildare and Marcus Welby populated the airwaves. On these programs, the primary focus was on the patient’s story, and the doctors generally could do no wrong. However, the 1994 premieres of ER and Chicago Hope ushered in a new era of fictional medical programming. These programs—in particular ER—prided themselves on techniques such as using medical jargon, increasing accuracy as much as possible without sacrificing entertainment value, and hiring physicians and other medical professionals to serve on the writing staff.
  • …to our knowledge, there has never been a formal, rigorous systematic review of the literature assessing the ability of medical television programs to affect important public health outcomes such as viewers’ health-related knowledge, perceptions and/or behavior. Considering the continuing availability of medical television programming and its potential for continued influence, this is an important gap in the literature. Therefore, we conducted such a systematic review in order to synthesize extant research, make recommendations for future study, and explore opportunities to creatively leverage the infrastructure around these programs.
  • Overall, our results suggest that fictional medical programs do influence viewer knowledge, perceptions and behaviors. Thus, it may be valuable for medical and public health professionals to work with fictional medical television writers, producers and directors to ensure that programs are as accurate as possible while maintaining their entertainment value. Furthermore, there may be opportunities for health professionals to work with these programs to augment current public health and health education campaigns. For example, in 2014 the CDC spent $2.1 million on national tobacco education campaigns, but working with existing medical television programs to incorporate anti-smoking plotlines into episodes could provide additional education to millions of viewers at little to no additional cost.
  • From inability to let well alone; from too much zeal for the new and contempt for what is old; from putting knowledge before wisdom, science before art and cleverness before common sense; from treating patients as cases; and from making the cure of the disease more grievous than the endurance of the same, Good Lord, deliver us.
    • Sir Robert Hutchison, 20th century physician, British Medical Journal (1953), 1: 671.
  • Medicine was the foster-mother of Chemistry, because it has to do with the preparation of drugs and the detection of poisons; of Botany, because it enabled the physician to recognize medicinal herbs; of Comparative Anatomy and Physiology, because the man who studied Human Anatomy and Physiology for purely medical purposes was led to extend his studies to the rest of the animal world.
  • Modern medicine is a negation of health. It isn't organised to serve human health, but only itself, as an institution. It makes more people sick than it heals.
  • Things are not going well for me. My chef at the Charité strongly disapproves of women students and took this means of showing it. About a hundred men (no women except myself) went round the wards today, and when we were all assembled before him to have our names written down, he called and named all the students except me, and then closed the book. I stood forward upon this, and said quietly, "Et moi aussi, monsieur." [And me, Sir.] He turned on me sharply, and cried, "Vous, vous n'êtes ni homme ni femme; je ne veux pas inscrire vôtre nom." [You, you are neither man nor woman; I don't want to write your name.] I stood silent in the midst of a dead silence.
    • Anna Kingsford, written to her husband in 1874; quoted in The Scalpel and the Butterfly by Deborah Rudacille (University of California Press, 2000), p. 35.
  • Before the eighteenth century the demographic impact of the profession of medicine remained negligible. Relatively few persons could afford to pay a doctor for his often very expensive services; and for every case in which the doctor's attendance really made a difference between life and death, there were other instances in which even the best available professional services made little difference to the course of the disease, or actually hindered recovery. ...Only with the eighteenth century did the situation begin to change; and it was not until after 1850 or so that the practice of medicine and the organization of medical services begin to make large-scale differences in human survival rates and population growth.
  • The popular medical formulation of morality that goes back to Ariston of Chios, "virtue is the health of the soul," would have to be changed to become useful, at least to read: "your virtue is the health of your soul." For there is no health as such, and all attempts to define a thing that way have been wretched failures. Even the determination of what is healthy for your body depends on your goal, your horizon, your energies, your impulses, your errors, and above all on the ideals and phantasms of your soul. Thus there are innumerable healths of the body; and the more we allow the unique and incomparable to raise its head again, and the more we abjure the dogma of the "equality of men," the more must the concept of a normal health, along with a normal diet and the normal course of an illness, be abandoned by medical men. Only then would the time have come to reflect on the health and illness of the soul, and to find the peculiar virtue of each man in the health of his soul.
  • Finally, the great question would still remain whether we can really dispense with illness—even for the sake of our virtue—and whether our thirst for knowledge and self-knowledge in particular does not require the sick soul as much as the healthy, and whether, in brief, the will to health alone, is not a prejudice, cowardice, and perhaps a bit of very subtle barbarism and backwardness.
  • The value of incorporating ‘realism’ into the literary, visual, and dramatic arts with respect to reaching and appealing to a wide audience has long been recognized by authors, artists, and playwrights alike. Since the dawn of the television drama in the 1950s, the portrayal of realism has been of similar concern, with the goal of sustaining mass market consumption of television programming. Recognizing the influence of this new medium, the American Medical Association (AMA) created the Physicians’ Advisory Committee for Radio, Television and Motion Pictures in 1955, with the goal of establishing organizational influence and control regarding the medical issues being portrayed on such early television serials set in hospitals as Ben Casey and Dr. Kildare.7In exchange for consultation regarding accuracy in the portrayal of disease, appearance of operating rooms, use of medical instruments, and performance of emergency room procedures such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation, television procedures were able to display the seal of approval of the organization in the credits, effectively providing an aura of realism as sanctioned by an authoritative body. It was obvious to the AMA, at a time when media psychology was a nascent science, that the portrayal of the medical profession on television could have significant influence on the public perception of doctors, hospitals, and the practice of medicine in general.
    Although the producers of television dramas have long abandoned with formal, public collaboration with organizations such as the AMA, they continue to employ physician consultants to assist with accurate portrayals of patients, physicians, and hospital settings with the goal of realism in mind.
  • Furthermore, television portrayal of medicine may have a profound effect on patient’s medical knowledge and decision-making. A survey of geriatric patients demonstrated that 42% of older adults named television as their primary source of health information.
  • La philosophie est la mére de la médecine.
    • Philosophy is the mother of medecine.
    • Kurt Polycarp Joachim Sprengel Histoire de la Médecine, Depuis son Origine Jusqu'au Dix-neuvième Siècle Tome premier, Introduction p. 5 as quoted by David Allyn Gorton, The History of Medicine, Philosophical and Critical (1910) Vol. 1

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations[edit]

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 502-04.
  • Medicus carat, Natura sanat morbus.
    • The physician heals, Nature makes well.
    • Idea in Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Book VII. 15. 7. Oxford text.
  • A man's own observation, what he find good of, and what he finds hurt of, is the best physic to preserve health.
  • Dat Galenus opes, dat Justinianus honores,
    Sed genus species cogitur ire pedes.
    • The rich Physician, honor'd Lawyers ride,
      Whil'st the poor Scholar foots it by their side.
    • Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621), I. 2. 3. 15. Quoted by Dr. Robert F. Arnold. A like saying may be found in Franciscus Floridus Sabinus—Lectiones Subcisive, Book I, Chapter I. Also John Owen—Medicus et I. C.
    • Ovid, Fasti, I. 217; Amores, III, VIII. 55.
  • 'Tis not amiss, ere ye're giv'n o'er,
    To try one desp'rate med'cine more;
    For where your case can be no worse,
    The desp'rat'st is the wisest course.
  • Learn'd he was in medic'nal lore,
    For by his side a pouch he wore,
    Replete with strange hermetic powder
    That wounds nine miles point-blank would solder.
  • This is the way that physicians mend or end us,
    Secundum artem: but although we sneer
    In health—when ill, we call them to attend us,
    Without the least propensity to jeer.
  • Ægri quia non omnes convalescunt, idcirco ars nulla medicina est.
    • Because all the sick do not recover, therefore medicine is not an art.
    • Cicero, De Natura Deorum, II. 4.
  • Take a little rum
    The less you take the better,
    Pour it in the lakes
    Of Wener or of Wetter.

    Dip a spoonful out
    And mind you don't get groggy,
    Pour it in the lake
    Of Winnipissiogie.

    * Stir the mixture well
    Lest it prove inferior,
    Then put half a drop
    Into Lake Superior.

    Every other day
    Take a drop in water,
    You'll be better soon
    Or at least you oughter.
  • Better to hunt in fields for health unbought,
    Than fee the doctor for a nauseous draught.
    The wise for cure on exercise depend;
    God never made his work for man to mend.
    • John Dryden, Epistle to John Dryden of Chesterton, line 92.
  • So liv'd our sires, ere doctors learn'd to kill,
    And multiplied with theirs the weekly bill.
  • Even as a Surgeon, minding off to cut
    Some cureless limb, before in use he put
    His violent Engins on the vicious member,
    Bringeth his Patient in a senseless slumber,
    And grief-less then (guided by use and art),
    To save the whole, sawes off th' infected part.
  • For of the most High cometh healing.
    • Ecclesiasticus, XXXVIII. 2.
  • One doctor, singly like the sculler plies,
    The patient struggles, and by inches dies;
    But two physicians, like a pair of oars,
    Waft him right swiftly to the Stygian shores.
    • Quoted by Garth, The Dispensary.
  • A single doctor like a sculler plies,
    And all his art and all his physic tries;
    But two physicians, like a pair of oars,
    Conduct you soonest to the Stygian shores.
    • Epigrams Ancient and Modern. Edited by Rev. John Booth, London, 1863, p. 144. Another version signed D, (probably John Dunscombe) in note to Nichols' Select Collection of Poems.
  • "Is there no hope?" the sick man said,
    The silent doctor shook his head,
    And took his leave with signs of sorrow,
    Despairing of his fee to-morrow.
  • Oh, powerful bacillus,
    With wonder how you fill us,
    Every day!
    While medical detectives,
    With powerful objectives,
    Watch your play.
  • I firmly believe that if the whole materia medica could be sunk to the bottom of the sea, it would be all the better for mankind and all the worse for the fishes.
  • A pill that the present moment is daily bread to thousands.
  • Orandum est, ut sit mens sana in corpore sano.
    • A sound mind in a sound body is a thing to be prayed for.
    • Juvenal, Satires, X. 356.
  • You behold in me
    Only a travelling Physician;
    One of the few who have a mission
    To cure incurable diseases,
    Or those that are called so.
  • Physician, heal thyself.
    • Luke, IV. 23. Quoted as a proverb.
  • And in requital ope his leathern scrip,
    And show me simples of a thousand names,
    Telling their strange and vigorous faculties.
  • Adrian, the Emperor, exclaimed incessantly, when dying, "That the crowd of physicians had killed him."
  • How the Doctor's brow should smile,
    Crown'd with wreaths of camomile.
  • Dulcia non ferimus; succo renovamus amaro.
    • We do not bear sweets; we are recruited by a bitter potion.
    • Ovid, Ars Amatoria, III. 583.
  • Medicus nihil aliud est quam animi consolatio.
  • I have heard that Tiberius used to say that that man was ridiculous, who after sixty years, appealed to a physician.
    • Plutarch, De Sanitate tuenda, Volume II.
  • So modern 'pothecaries, taught the art
    By doctor's bills to play the doctor's part,
    Bold in the practice of mistaken rules,
    Prescribe, apply, and call their masters fools.
  • Learn from the beasts the physic of the field.
  • Who shall decide when doctors disagree,
    And soundest casuists doubt, like you and me?
  • Banished the doctor, and expell'd the friend.
  • You tell your doctor, that y' are ill
    And what does he, but write a bill,
    Of which you need not read one letter,
    The worse the scrawl, the dose the better.
    For if you knew but what you take,
    Though you recover, he must break.
  • But, when the wit began to wheeze,
    And wine had warm'd the politician,
    Cur'd yesterday of my disease,
    I died last night of my physician.
  • Physicians, of all men, are most happy: whatever good success soever they have, the world proclaimeth and what faults they commit, the earth covereth.
  • Use three Physicians,
    Still-first Dr. Quiet,
    Next Dr. Merry-man
    And Dr. Dyet.
    • From Regimen Sanitatis Salernitanum, Edition 1607.
  • No cataplasm so rare,
    Collected from all simples that have virtue
    Under the moon, can save the thing from death.
  • In poison there is physic; and these news,
    Having been well, that would have made me sick;
    Being sick, have in some measure made me well.
  • How does your patient, doctor?
    Not so sick, my lord,
    As she is troubled with thick-coming fancies.
  • Canst thou not minister to a mind diseas'd,
    Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow,
    Raze out the written troubles of the brain,
    And with some sweet oblivious antidote
    Cleanse the stuff'd bosom of that perilous stuff
    Which weighs upon the heart?
  • Therein the patient
    Must minister to himself.
    Throw physic to the dogs; I'll none of it.
  • If thou couldst, doctor, cast
    The water of my land, find her disease,
    And purge it to a sound and pristine health,
    I would applaud thee to the very echo,
    That should applaud again.
  • I do remember an apothecary,—
    And hereabouts he dwells,—whom late I noted
    In tatter'd weeds, with overwhelming brows,
    Culling of simples; meagre were his looks,
    Sharp misery had worn him to the bones:
    And in his needy shop a tortoise hung,
    An alligator stuff'd, and other skins
    Of ill-shaped fishes; and about his shelves
    A beggarly account of empty boxes,
    Green earthen pots, bladders and musty seeds,
    Remnants of packthread and old cakes of roses,
    Were thinly scatter'd to make up a show.
  • Trust not the physician;
    His antidotes are poison, and he slays
    More than you rob.
  • Crudelem medicum intemperans æger facit.
    • A disorderly patient makes the physician cruel.
    • Syrus, Maxims.
  • He (Tiberius) was wont to mock at the arts of physicians, and at those who, after thirty years of age, needed counsel as to what was good or bad for their bodies.
    • Tacitus, Annals, Book VI, Chapter XLVI. Same told by Suetonius, Life of Tiberius, Chapter LXVIII.
  • Ægrescitque medendo.
    • The medicine increases the disease.
    • Virgil, Æneid (29-19 BC), XII. 46.
  • But nothing is more estimable than a physician who, having studied nature from his youth, knows the properties of the human body, the diseases which assail it, the remedies which will benefit it, exercises his art with caution, and pays equal attention to the rich and the poor.
    • Voltaire, Dictionnaire philosophique portatif ("A Philosophical Dictionary") (1764), Physicians.

Quotes in fiction[edit]

Oh, I'd give a lot to see the hospital. Probably needles and sutures. All the pain. They used to hand-cut and sew people like garments. Needles and sutures. Oh, the terrible pain! ~ Harlan Ellison
Capt. Kirk: He is a healer, let him heal.
  • Dr. McCoy: Biped. Small. Good cranial development. No doubt considerable human ancestry. Is that how you're able to fake all of this? Very good. Modern museum perfection. Right down to the cement beams. Very, very good. Oh, I'd give a lot to see the hospital. Probably needles and sutures. All the pain. They used to hand-cut and sew people like garments. Needles and sutures. Oh, the terrible pain!
  • Doctor Seward: But, Professor Van Helsing, modern medical science does not admit of such a creature! The vampire is a pure myth, superstition.
Professor Abraham Van Helsing: I may be able to bring you proof that the superstition of yesterday can become the scientific reality of today.
  • Adam: Nature mandates that mankind will eventually succumb to its poison. However, humans created their own poison, called medicine. It's delusional to believe you can poison Nature to avoid your fate.
Doctor Stiles: No... It's delusional to dismiss people's deaths as "fate."
  • Patient: Doctor.
Dr. McCoy: What's the matter with you?
Woman Patient: Kidney ...dialysis.
Dr. McCoy: Dialysis? My god, what is this, the Dark Ages? Here, you swallow that. If you have a problem, just call me.
  • Intern #1: Did you hear anything?
Intern #2: I was there. I heard the whole thing.
Intern #1: Weintrub said radical chemotherapy or she's gonna croak. Just like that.
Intern #2: Well, what about Gottlieb?
Intern #1: All he talked about was image therapy, or otherwise he'd cut it out.
Dr. McCoy: Unbelievable.
Intern #1: You have a different view, Doctor?
McCoy: It sounds like the goddam Spanish Inquisition!
  • Doctor #1: A simple evacuation of the expanding epidural hematoma will relieve the pressure.
McCoy: My God, man, drilling holes in his head's not the answer. The artery must be repaired. Now put away your butcher knives and let me save this patient before it's too late!
Doctor #1: I'm going to have you removed.
Kirk: Doctors! Such unprofessional behaviour. ...Into that little room please.
Doctor #1: What is that? A gun?
Medical Staff: What is this? ...I have no idea! (Kirk fuses the lock of the little room with his phaser)
Doctor #1: He melted the lock!
McCoy: We're dealing with medievalism here! ...Chemotherapy! ...Fundoscopic examinations!
  • Mr. Spock: Doctor, if I were able to show emotion, your new infatuation with that term would begin to annoy me.
Dr. McCoy: What term? 'Logic'? Medical men are trained in logic, Mr. Spock.
Mr. Spock: Really, Doctor? I had no idea they were trained. Watching you, I assumed it was trial and error.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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