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What Is Medicine?Western and Eastern Approaches to Healing$
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Paul Unschuld

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780520257658

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520257658.001.0001

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Wash Your Hands, Keep the Germs Away

Wash Your Hands, Keep the Germs Away

77 Wash Your Hands, Keep the Germs Away
What Is Medicine?

Paul U. Unschuld

University of California Press

This chapter examines the views of experts from the nineteenth century on the reasons that lead to the sickness of an individual. Some believed that pathogens were responsible for sickness. Others said that pathogens could invade the body only if a door had been opened beforehand. Robert Koch believed the defense strategy involved washing hands and keeping germs away. The chapter also focuses on the new cleanliness of society. Every individual was responsible for his own morality. The sick person was doubly victimized by the system. First, the environment made someone ill and second, the body's defense system has failed. The environment might have caused so much stress that made a person sick. Sometimes an individual's carelessness openly invites the pathogen. But there are not always a great number of pathogens or self-culpability. The new plausibility diverted responsibility from the lone individual to the system.

Keywords:   sickness, pathogens, defense strategy, society, environment

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