Medical Practice during the Song Dynasty (960-1279 CE) and Changing Perceptions of the Female Body
The clinical space, in which a physician diagnoses a patient, differentiates the disorder based on detected signs and symptoms, and treats the patient, is the epicenter of medicine. It is during these brief moments that years of preparation, study, and training culminate into what the doctor hopes will be the cure of the patient’s disease. In this talk I would like to reconstruct the clinical scene during Song-dynasty China. Basing my study on one physician’s collection of medical case records dating to the twelfth century (Xu Shuwei’s 許叔微, Ninety Discussions on Cold Damage Disorders 傷寒九十論, after 1149), I will depict the clinical encounter analyzing the roles of the physician, patient, and other participants in the encounter. I will discuss how physicians reached their diagnosis and implemented treatment within a complex social context. In the second part of my talk, I will discuss how one of the cases represents a broader change in the perception of the physiology of the female body during this period.