Medieval Matters: Hildegard of Bingen: Medieval Lessons for Modern Medicine
Thursday, November 6, 2014
Bishop Auditorium, Lathrop Library (08-350) Stanford University
For more than 2,500 years, doctors and patients understood the body in the same way: it was like a plant, with its own natural power of growth, maturation, and healing. The doctor was like a gardener, using the four elements of earth, air, water, and fire to remove what was in the way of that power and optimize the conditions of health. Then, suddenly, at the end of the 19th century, this model was replaced by a different idea: the body was more like a machine than a plant, and the doctor more like a mechanic, fixing or replacing a broken part. The old idea, however, did not disappear; it dove down into the collective unconscious, and we still miss it.In this talk, Victoria Sweet will draw on her study of Hildegard of Bingenâ€”the 12th-century abbess, mystic, composer, theologian, and medical practitionerâ€”to explore this premodern model of medicine, and to show how it is useful even today, as a second perspective on health and illness, curing, caring, and healing.
Victoria Sweet Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, UCSF
Victoria Sweet practiced medicine for twenty years at Laguna Honda Hospital and received a PhD in medical history. In her book,Gods Hotel: A Doctor, a Hospital, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine, Sweet laid out her evidenceâ€”in stories of her patients and her hospitalâ€”for new ideas about medical practice. Her next book is Slow Medicine, Fast Medicine: Healing, Curing, and Caring in an Age of Technology.