Home Medicine

Home Medicine: The Newfoundland Experience

John K. Crellin
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  • Book Info
    Home Medicine
    Book Description:

    Based on material from the Folklore Archives at Memorial University as well as other sources, Crellin's catalogue includes such topics as abortion, baldness and hair preparations, blood-letting, cancer, drunkenness, female complaints, Gin Pills, herbs, midwifery and childbirth, Newfoundland stomach, poultices, prepared cures, rheumatism and arthritis, and tonics. Looking at the interplay between mainstream physicians and alternative treatments, and the effect of folk beliefs on today's self-care practices, Crellin examines how the advent of modern medicine has affected self-treatment.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6478-7
    Subjects: Health Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. [vii]-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-8)

    Home Medicine: The Newfoundland Experienceconsiders many changes and issues in self-treatment that have occurred during the twentieth century. Although of special appeal to Newfoundlanders,Home Medicineis far from a parochial account; it is directed toward those interested in medical care in general, folklore, history, and related areas. Newfoundland, with its particular social evolution and conspicuous heritage, is a fertile resource for case studies. This volume reveals a rich tapestry of the many facets of everyday life and of the countless ways, often ingenious, of dealing or coping with commonplace health problems.

    Confederation with Canada in 1949 foreshadowed many...

    • Newfoundland Snapshots
      (pp. 11-14)

      The diversity of self-treatment in twentieth-century Newfoundland – a large, rugged island of 43,359 square miles at the mouth of the Gulf of St. Lawrence – is striking. It also reflects such aspects of the island’s recent history as changes in the role of the non-market economy and the resulting trends away from self-sufficiency. Above all, it is a reminder of the accounts of stark living conditions and horrendous journeys on medical calls that abound in Newfoundland. Most, however, are but a pale shadow of Wilfred Grenfell’s celebrated saga of a house call in 1908 when, with great resourcefulness, which included killing...

    • Commercialism and Change, c. 1900-1950
      (pp. 15-27)

      Why quote from a folksong, “Dear Doctor John,” well-known in Newfoundland, and with probable origins in the successful marketing of De Jongh’s brand of cod liver oil during the second half of the nineteenth century? The song is a reminder that the story of cod liver oil – illustrating as it does a trend away from using home-made oil to reliance on commercial preparations – reflects a striking change that helped to reshape self-care in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.10If it is surprising that commercial cod liver oil preparations became popular when local oil albeit “unpurified” and less palatable – was readily...

    • Physician and Patient: Attitudes and Interactions
      (pp. 28-36)

      One facet of the changes in medicine and the growing authority of physicians from 1900 onward was the professionals’ attitude to self-care. Were Newfoundland physicians as critical about proprietary medicines and other aspects of self-treatment as countless physicians elsewhere? In fact, many historians consider that the professionalization of medicine from the nineteenth century onward contributed to self-medication being increasingly viewed as “unprofessional,” as well as to a sharpening of the differences between self- and professional care. Unfortunately, insufficient evidence has been uncovered to provide a clear picture of attitudes in Newfoundland. The following remarks make clear, however, that a variety...

    • Self-Care: Effectiveness and Community Roles
      (pp. 37-50)

      The ascendency of commercial preparations (already described) and their contribution to edging out many long-standing practices, along with the scepticism if not opposition of physicians, prompts various questions about the effectiveness of both the old-time practices and the newer products. There is a question, too, as to whether Newfoundland self-care had a social role that has been lost to the changes in recent years.

      Despite testimonials supporting numerous traditional home-regimens and a belief that since they were used they must work, many were generally ineffective, at least if assessed by current pharmacological knowledge. Why then did they persist or continue...

    • Introduction
      (pp. 53-56)

      The arrangement of the entries that follow is an alphabetical mix of accounts of ailments and treatments used or known during the the first half of the twentieth century. Numerous practices, however, have a much earlier origin, many continuing beyond 1950 and some being of recent introduction. If at first sight this appears to be a reference guide rather than a book to be read as a continuous story of home care, a straight reading of the entries or of selected themes, such as diseases or herbs, will clearly illustrate the kaleidoscope, choices, and complexity of health care, and in...

    • From Abortion to Zam-Buk Ointment
      (pp. 57-248)

      No estimates are available of the incidence of illegitimate births or non-professionally induced abortions in Newfoundland, except for recent times. Anecdotal information suggests that the latter were fewer than illegitimate births, at least in many communities – Catholic and Protestant — until the 1940s. Aside from shot-gun marriages, a commonplace observation was that “if a girl got pregnant before she was married, no one saw her for months before or after the baby was born. If she did not marry the man, she lived with her parents until she could find a job as servant girl to support herself.” There was also...

  7. Notes
    (pp. 249-254)
  8. Bibliography
    (pp. 255-270)
  9. Index
    (pp. 271-280)