E.E. Berger, Candidate of Historical Sciences, Senion Researcher, Associate Professor
The article examines the formation of medical narratives and the possibilities of using these types of sources in historical and medical history research. The tradition of describing individual cases of diseases originated in ancient Greece – a classic example of this is the Epidemic treatise from the Hippocratic Corpus. In the Renaissance, the cultural reorientation towards interest in the human individual stimulated the physicians to reconstruct narrative practices. For example, case histories created by Ambroise Paré attempt at prosopographic studies to determine the attributes of his patients. The purpose of writing these case histories was training of young surgeons, which to some extent compensated for a lack of clinical practice. Sources of this type may be of interest to historians of medicine as a first stage of the emergence of medical records. Historians, on the contrary, appreciate Paré’s narratives, indivisibility of genres and the absence of form on which the patient is surveyed, and the treatment regimen is described. This allows for more information to be received which would be missing in a formalized medical history. “Social history” representatives will find material to draw conclusions not only concerning patients but also on moral values and the specifics of the inner world of a physician of the 16th century. Detailed medical histories, created by Paré, place them beyond the bounds of traditional treatises on surgery. The features of the author’s presentation, as well as his moral assessment of the described realities indicate not only medical, but also the literary value of these historical sources.
Keywords: medical history, Ambroise Paré, Hippocrates, Epidemic, prosopography