Friday, August 12, 2011

Florence Nightingale 1860

" Diseases are not individuals arranged in classes, like cats and dogs, but conditions, growing out of one another. 
"  Is it not living in a continual mistake to look upon diseases as we do now, as seperate entities, which must exist, like cats and dogs, instead of looking upon them as conditions, like dirty and clean condition, and just as much under our control; or rather as the reactions of kindly nature, against the conditions in which we have placed ourselves?
"  I was brought up to believe that smallpox for instance, was a thing of which there was once a first specimen in the world, which went on propagating itself, in a perpetual chain of descent, just as there was a first dog, or first pair of dogs, and that smallpox would not begin itself, any more than a new dog would begin without there having been a parent dog.
"  Since then I have seen with my own eyes and smelled with my own nose smallpox growing up in first specimens, either in closed rooms or in overcrowded wards, where it could not by any possibility have been "caught", but must have begun.
"  I have seen diseases begin, grow up, and turn into one another. Now , dogs do not turn into cats.
"  I have seen, for instance, with a little overcrowding, continued fever grow up; and with a little more, typhoid fever; and with a little more, typhus, and all in the same ward or hut.
"  Would it not be far better, truer, and more practical, if we looked upon disease in this light (for diseases, as all experience shows, are adjectives, not noun-substantives):
     -True nursing ignores infection, except to prevent it. 
Cleanliness and fresh air from open windows, with          
unremitting attention to the patient, are the only defense
 a true nurse either asks or needs.
     -Wise and humane management of the patient is the
 best safegard against infection. The greater part of       
 nursing consists of preserving cleanliness.
     -The specific disease doctrine is the grand refuge of
 weak, uncultured, unstable minds, such as now rule       
 in the medical profession. There are no specific diseases;
 there are specific disease conditions."

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