Old and modern medical pluralism: an historical overview
Dr. Robert Jütte
Director of the Institute for the History of Medicine of the Robert Bosch Foundation Stuttgart,
Adjunct Professor of History at the University of Stuttgart
The pluralistic character of health and medical system in almost every society, be it simple or complex, has been pointed out by medical historians as well as medical anthropologists. In the premodern era the free choice of health care by people from all walks of society received recognition by the authorities and also profited from patronage of the upper classes who sought help from a wide range of healers (including learned physicians, wise women and even the executioner). In the second half of the 19th century the scientific turn in orthodox medicine challenged medical pluralism. Since the last decades we even observe a new medical pluralism in most western societies. The provocative language of ‘quackery’ and ‘miracle cures’ has been gone and has been replaced by a new quest for normativity of safe and effective therapies.
Robert Jütte is currently Director of the Institute for the History of Medicine of the Robert Bosch Foundation and Adjunct Professor of History at the University of Stuttgart. He is a social and medical historian and the author or editor of over 35 books, some translated into English and into other languages, among them a history of CAM. He is member of the steering committee of the Scientific Board of the German Medical Association.