JUL 13, 2019 8:24 AM PDT

Problems In Diagnostics

WRITTEN BY: Abbie Arce

While the history of medicine is incredibly interesting, it is, in equal parts, entirely horrifying. In the past, everything from bloodletting, to the boring of holes into the skull, have been prescribed widely by medical practitioners. As we look back, it’s easy to consider these practices savage, but in their time, they were considered the highest standard of care. These failures in medicine go beyond treatments to the diagnostics that guide them.

The above video gives some insight into where early diagnoses came from and how practitioners were educated. 

While some diagnoses were developed with patient health in mind, others were developed for the purpose of control.

An example of this comes in the form of an 1897 diagnosis of “bicycle face“ written about in the National Review by Dr. Shadwell. This diagnosis was a measure hoping to discourage women from cycling, citing medical reasons. In his article, “The Dangers of Cycling “ Shadwell describes a strained facial expression as the main symptom of the disorder. This, he alleged, was the result of too much cycling, which over time was harmful to a woman’s appearance and desirability. 

While the diagnosis might seem funny today, it likely removed a healthy addition and convenient mode of transportation from the lives of many women. Additionally, it was undoubtedly an effort to reduce independence in women of the time.

In 19th century America, other invented conditions were used to control and justify the mistreatment of victims of slavery. Fictitious mental conditions were created with symptoms including laziness and an unlikelihood to follow orders. Lesions on the skin were also considered a symptom, although this was likely to help cover up abuse from slave owners. For the treatment of this condition, doctors recommended whipping.

More recently, we battle different harmful diagnoses. For example, homosexuality was still defined in DSM-1 as a “sociopathic personality disturbance.“ Shockingly, just last year, the WHO updated their International Classification of Diseases manual to no longer define transgender individuals as disordered. 

These examples highlight how regularly questioning our understanding of medicine is essential for providing a high standard of care.

To avoid the use of diagnosis to justify harmful practices, like conversion therapy, we need to be ever vigilant about the quality and implications of the diagnoses we hand down.

 

Sources: American Psychological AssociationCrash Course

About the Author
  • Abbie is an AFAA certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with an interest in all things health-science. She has recently graduated with her BS in Applied Sport and Exercise Science from Barry University in Miami. Next, she intends to earn an MPH with a focus in Epidemiology.
You May Also Like
NOV 14, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
Half of CBD Users Test Positive for THC in Urine Tests
NOV 14, 2020
Half of CBD Users Test Positive for THC in Urine Tests
Despite the growing popularity of cannabidiol (CBD) products, there has been little research directly assessing whether ...
DEC 23, 2020
Cancer
A Combination of Photo and Sonodynamic Therapies Could Assist in Treating Brain Cancer
DEC 23, 2020
A Combination of Photo and Sonodynamic Therapies Could Assist in Treating Brain Cancer
Brain cancer is an incredible challenge for modern medicine. Most drugs don’t make it past the blood-brain barrier ...
DEC 22, 2020
Cardiology
A New 3D Imaging Method for Atherosclerosis Analysis in Mice
DEC 22, 2020
A New 3D Imaging Method for Atherosclerosis Analysis in Mice
Imaging in research may not sound glamorous, but how else would news stories get those cool looking science photos for t ...
DEC 29, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Injectable Heart Health Tracker Now Picks Up COVID Red Flags
DEC 29, 2020
Injectable Heart Health Tracker Now Picks Up COVID Red Flags
The statistics are a real eye-opener: in the United States, one person dies every 36 seconds from cardiovascular disease ...
FEB 11, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
Seeing if Hormone Therapy Will Work for Breast Cancer Patients
FEB 11, 2021
Seeing if Hormone Therapy Will Work for Breast Cancer Patients
Only around half of women diagnosed with breast cancer will benefit from hormonal therapy, a cancer treatment that adds, ...
FEB 23, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
Dogs Versus AI-Powered Diagnostic Devices-Who Won?
FEB 23, 2021
Dogs Versus AI-Powered Diagnostic Devices-Who Won?
We’ve heard of dogs sniffing out cancer—an unsurprising skill given that they have over 200 million scent re ...
Loading Comments...