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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: James J. Foody, MD (Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine)
Description: This is an historical overview of the roles of the five primary senses in the practice of medicine. Fifteen contributors wrote the 14 chapters covering different aspects of the senses.
Purpose: The purpose of the book is to answer two major questions. First, which is the noblest, or basest, of the senses, and why? Second, how does the mind convert raw data from the senses into coherence? The contributors do a better job of answering the latter; however, the approach is not that of the physical scientist, but that of the social scientist.
Audience: The book is intended for the mature physician who contemplates the historic perspective of his or her routine existence as a physician.
Features: The book is well illustrated with monochrome reproductions of paintings, drawings, and photographs. All assist the reader in fleshing out the historic viewpoint. References are extensive, well rounded, and pertinent. They will be valuable in guiding the interested reader to other sources. The index is excellent for individual names, but sparse in identifying particulars. The overall appearance of the book is splendid.
Assessment: This is an excellent historic overview about how the evolution of the understanding of the senses has caused the evolution of medical practice. One notable exception in the book's content is the lack of discussion of the effect of "humors' on temperament and the manner of how the perception of such humors affected the understanding of illness and its treatment. With this caveat, the book should be a substantial addition to the library of those interested in appreciating how medicine arrived at the position it enjoys today."