Monday, 18 September 2017
Homeopathy 'for Mexicans': Medical Popularisation, Commercial Endeavours, and Patients' Choice in the Mexican Medical Marketplace, 1853-1872.
Med Hist. 2017 Oct;61(4):568-589. doi: 10.1017/mdh.2017.59. Hernández Berrones J. Abstract This paper focuses on homeopaths' strategies to popularise homeopathy from 1850 to 1870. I argue that homeopaths created a space for homeopathy in Mexico City in the mid-nineteenth century by facilitating patients' access to medical knowledge, consultation and practice. In this period, when national and international armed conflicts limited the diffusion and regulation of academic medicine, homeopaths popularised homeopathy by framing it as a life-enhancing therapy with tools that responded to patients' needs. Patients' preference for homeopathy evolved into commercial endeavours that promoted the practice of homeopathy through the use of domestic manuals. Using rare publications and archival records, I analyse the popularisation of homeopathy in Ramón Comellas's homeopathic manual, the commercialisation of Julián González's family guides, and patients' and doctors' reception of homeopathy. I show that narratives of conversion to homeopathy relied on the different experiences of patients and trained doctors, and that patients' positive experience with homeopathy weighed more than the doctors' efforts to explain to the public how academic medicine worked. The fact that homeopaths and patients used a shared language to describe disease experiences framed the possibility of a horizontal transmission of medical knowledge, opening up the possibility for patients to become practitioners. By relying on the long tradition of domestic medicine in Mexico, the popularisation of homeopathy disrupted the professional boundaries that academic physicians had begun to build, making homeopaths the largest group that challenged the emergent medical academic culture and its diffusion in Mexico in the nineteenth century. KEYWORDS: Domestic medicine; Homeopathy; Medical profession; Mexico; Patients’ choice; Popularisation of medicine PMID: 28901873 DOI: 10.1017/mdh.2017.59