Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Aphorisms of Rudolf Virchow

Rudolf Ludwig Karl Virchow (1821 – 1902) was a German doctor, anthropologist, public health activist, pathologist, prehistorian, biologist and politician. His famous report titled Report on the Typhus Epidemic in Upper Silesia is an absolute classic and established him as one of the founding fathers of social medicine. Among his many talents Virchow was adept at coming up with catchy aphorisms. These are some of my favourites:

“Medicine is a social science, and politics is nothing but medicine on a large scale.”

“It is the curse of humanity that it learns to tolerate even the most horrible situations by habituation.”

“Medical education does not exist to provide students with a way of making a living, but to ensure the health of the community.”

“The physicians are the natural attorneys of the poor, and the social problems should largely be solved by them.”

“My politics were those of prophylaxis, my opponents preferred those of palliation.”

“Virchow had a comprehensive vision. Pathology, social medicine, politics, anthropology. My model.” – Paul Farmer. Mine too :-)

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