Health in the Balance
Early Theories About Patterns of Disease Occurrence
Curiosity about the causes and occurrence of disease is not unique to epidemiologists. After all, who wouldn’t be interested in knowing about how to live a healthy life?—or to predict and ward off sickness, injury and death? As the historical record makes clear, people long have tried to account for disease occurrence: both individual cases and population patterns—and have done so steeped in the ideas of their times. Hence, as prelude to analyzing more familiar post-Renaissance epidemiologic theories, Chapter 2 considers four examples spanning from the ancient classical texts of Greek Hippocratic humoral theory and Chinese medicine to the current oral traditions of the Kallawaya in the Andes and the Ogori in Nigeria. Together, these examples reveal how diverse peoples in ancient and contemporary traditional societies have sought to explain their society's patterns of health and disease, as influenced by both their societal and ecologic context.
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