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Causal Theories of Disease

Please provide me with suggestions and ideas for the following questions:

1. What theories about the causes of disease have persisted from early times until today? Do you think that any of the basic principles of disease occurrence are interrelated? Explain. Reference your response.

2. What were the major "breakthroughs" that contributed to a more scientific understanding of disease causation? Reference your response.

3. Are there any measures for disease prevention which were used in early times that should/could be used today? Why do you think some were discarded as preventive measures? Reference your response.

Solution Preview

Hello,

Good questions! Let's take a closer look at each question. I also attached two supporting articles.

RESPONSE:

1. What theories about the causes of disease have persisted from early times until today? Do you think that any of the basic principles of disease occurrence are interrelated? Explain. Reference your response

Two dominant theories of disease existed prior to the rise of modern scientific medicine. The personalistic view holds that the causation of disease is that God or an evil spirit punishes the individual. In the naturalistic perspective, illness is explained in impersonal terms as the effect of lack of balance of basic body elements. The balance may be upset from without or within the balance can be upset from without or within by natural forces such as heat, cold or strong emotions. (http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Academy/7562/medical.html) Some people still hold these views, but they are not commonly held.

Up to the late C18 European medicine held a variety of theories about illness and disease. However, the underlying approach was that everyone had a particular pathological career because of his/ her individual circumstances. This view is evident in today's medical model, when you hear about someone having a predisposition to a disease. However, today's ideas are in line with and passed down from the early C19, when there was a change in the conceptualization of disease with the rise of the scientific paradigm of specific etiology. Diseases had specific causes, which could be detected and treated as with tubercule bacillus. Between 1879 and 1900 the causative agents of at least 22 infections were discovered. (http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Academy/7562/medical.html) The germ theory of disease, also called the pathogenic theory of medicine, is a theory that proposes that microorganisms are the cause of many diseases. Although highly controversial when first proposed, it is now a cornerstone of modern medicine and clinical microbiology, leading to such important innovations as antibiotics and hygienic practices.
(Madigan, M., & Martinko J (editors). (2005). Brock Biology of Microorganisms, 11th ed., Prentice Hall). This is evident in the medical model today.

The theories of disease causation seem to have very little in common as it went from being caused by God or evils spirits to pathology in the individual to germs in the environment. The theories of causation of disease are reflections of changing world views, moving for supernatural causes (e..g, God or the devil) to natural causes (e..g, biologically pathological) to environmental causes (e.g, germs) of disease.

2. What were the major "breakthroughs" that contributed to a more scientific understanding of disease causation? Reference your response.

Often new data comes in that challenges the existing knowledge; likewise in medicine. As the scientific method became prevalent, research increased into the cause of disease. As epidemics and plaques arose, so did the need for new theories (see excerpt below). The American economist Jeff Sachs writes, "human ignorance, poor health, brutish and short lifetimes have changed dramatically with economic development from prehistory up to ten millennia ago, when agriculture arose and practically all people ...

Solution Summary

This solution discusses causal theories of disease that have persisted from early times, as well as the major "breakthroughs" that contributed to a more scientific understanding of disease causation. It also discusses whether or not some of the methods of disease prevention used in early times should/could be used today, and provides potential reasons why some were discarded. Supplemented with two highly relevant articles, one on the Hippocrates Oath and the second article reflects on the implications of the scientific method in medicine.

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