Over the years, or medical understanding has improved a lot, and many of the things that were practiced in the middle ages now seem barbaric to our more “educated” minds – but what it’s easy to forget is that even in the last few decades we have made a lot of mistakes.
For example, for a long time it was thought that stomach ulcers were caused by stress, but that is not the case. Even as recently as the 1980s, many scientists were still insisting that ulcers were caused either by stress or by gastric acid. It wasn’t until the 1990s that it was really acknowledged that H. pylori is the cause of ulcers – not stress or diet.
Even more worryingly, in the year 2000s, many doctors would use dubious practices – even pushing on the top of the abdomen, to try to induce labour in women who were late and who wanted to give birth vaginally. The pressure that women face to allow medical intervention regarding birth, and issues like feeding (many hospitals still encourage bottle feeding if the child does not immediately latch on), is something that has caused lasting parents for many women.
In less recent times, but still not all that long ago, there was a period when medical science rejected germs (as recently as 1885), and said that you didn’t need to wash your hands. In the same era, you could get cocaine, heroin, opium and morphine to treat day-to-day ailments, and even children were given such medications.
It’s scary to think how far we’ve come, and how much we will inevitably still have to learn – what will our grandchildren think of as barbaric compared to their way of treating common medical conditions?