Julian Tudor Hart, a retired GP, widely respected for his contribution to general practice and epidemiological research, recaptured his memories of ‘going to the doctor’ in a paper published in an edited collection in 2000. Drawing upon a lifetime of experience, he emphasised the importance of the social context of disease. Citing a British study on clinical consultations undertaken in 1975, he reminded readers that this research had indicated ’85 per cent of all final diagnoses were reached by simply listening to patients’ stories’.1 Recalling over fifty years of experience of treating patients who presented with ill-defined symptoms with no detectable organic disease, he eloquently articulated much of what has been described throughout this book. Somatic labels, he noted, were often dependent on the current ‘fashion’. In his lifetime, hysterical paralysis had become chronic, post-viral fatigue, while ill-defined abdominal pains were consecutively labelled ‘grumbling’ appendix, spastic colon and irritable bowel syndrome. When it came to psychological illness, Tudor Hart remarked stridently: ‘It is hard for later generations to appreciate the hostility of almost all British GPs in the first two thirds of the [twentieth] century to any psychiatric diagnoses other than the gross institutionalised end-stage psychoses they had seen as students.’2


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    Julian Tudor Hart, ‘Going to the doctor’, in R. Cooter and J. Pickstone (eds), Medicine in the Twentieth Century (Amsterdam, Harwood Academic Press, 2000), pp. 543–58, on p. 549.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Ali Haggett 2015

Open Access This Chapter is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License, which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ali Haggett
    • 1
  1. 1.University of ExeterUK

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