History of Body Temperature

  • Ewa Grodzinsky
  • Märta Sund Levander


Explanations of why and how ‘fever’ occurs, and the steps necessary to treat it, have changed through the ages, varying with the prevailing understanding of health and disease. In general, though, fever has been perceived as a dreadful enemy of mankind, as eloquently expressed by Sir William Osler (1849–1919): ‘humanity has but three great enemies: fever, famine and war; of these, by far the greatest, by far the most terrible, is fever’. However, there was also a conception of the positive, healing effect of fever, described by Thomas Sydenham (1624–1689) as ‘nature’s engine which she brings into the field to remove her enemy’. In addition, in the days of tuberculosis at the beginning of the twentieth century, fever was romanticized as enhancing creativity in the face of death. To better understand our own perceptions, and why we do what we do today, we need some knowledge of previous ideas and theories.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ewa Grodzinsky
    • 1
  • Märta Sund Levander
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Pharmaceutic ResearchLinköping UniversityLinköpingSweden
  2. 2.Department of NursingLinköping UniversityLinköpingSweden

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