The role of imagination in modern medicine
Schott H.
Ber Wissenschaftsgesch. 2004 Jun;27(2):99-108


In Renaissance and early modern times, the concept of imagination (Latin imaginatio) was essential for the (natural) philosophical explanation of magic processes, especially in the anthropology of Paracelsus. He assumed that imaginatio was a natural vital power including cosmic, mental, phychical, and physical dimensions. The Paracelsians criticized traditional humor pathology ignoring their theory of, natural magic'. On the other hand, they were criticized by their adversaries as charlatans practicing, black magic'. About 1800, in between enlightenment and romanticism, the healing concept of, animal magnetism' (Mesmerism) evoked an analogous debate, whether, magnetic' phenomena originated from a real (physical) power (so-called, fluidum') or were just due to fantasy or imagination (German Einbildungskraft). At the end of the 19th century, the French internist Hippolyte Bernheim created-against the background of medical hypnosis (hypnotism') as a consequence of Mesmerism - his theory of suggestion and autosuggestion: a new paradigm of psychological respectively psychosomatic medicine, which became the basis for the concept of, placebo' in modern biomedicine. From now on, all the effects of, alternative medicine' could easily be explained by the, placebo-effect', more or less founded - at least unconsciously - on fraud.
Adverse effects
Obstetric anaesthesia
Molecular mechanisms
Inhalational techniques
Andreas Vesalius and surgery
Anaesthesia: rivalries and discoveries
Volatile anaesthetics immobilise sensitive plant

and further reading
Future Opioids
BLTC Research
Utopian Surgery?
The Good Drug Guide
The Abolitionist Project
The Hedonistic Imperative
The Reproductive Revolution
Critique of Huxley's Brave New World