Includes bibliographical references (pages 315-317) and index.
Introductory : framing the picture -- The body grotesque and monstrous -- The body healthy and beautiful -- Imagining disease -- Prototypes of practitioners -- Profiles of patients -- Outsiders and intruders -- Professional problems -- The medical politician and the body politic -- Victorian developments.
"In a historical tour be force, Roy Porter takes a critical look at representations of the body in death, disease and health and at images of the healing arts in Britain from the mid-seventeenth to the beginning of the twentieth century. Roy Porter's two key assumptions are, first, that the human body is the chief signifier and communicator of all manner of meanings - religious, moral, political and medical alike - and, second, that pre-scientific medicine was an art which depended heavily on performance, ritual, rhetoric and theatre.
In a text at once robustly humorous and learned, Porter argues that great symbolic weight was attached to contrasting conceptions of the healthy and diseased body, and that such ideas were mapped onto antithetical notions of the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. With these images in mind, he explores aspects of being ill alongside the practice of a range of medical specialities, paying particular attention to self-presentations by physicians, surgeons, quacks and others and to changes in practitioners' public identities over time. Armed with a wealth of outrageous anecdotes and satirical imagery, Porter also discusses the wider metaphorical and symbolic meanings of disease and doctoring in Britain in the last 250 years."--Jacket.