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Witches, midwives and nurses : a history of women healers

Author: Barbara Ehrenreich; Deirdre English
Publisher: London : Writers and Readers Pub. Cooperative, 1976.
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
Traditionally women have been healers who also used empirical evidence and proven techniques to heal. Yet male "doctors", who based their healing practices on the whims of the Church, continuously tried to discredit these successful healers. Throughout the 14th-17th centuries in Europe, these doctors labeled women healers witches and had them executed to maintain their authority and their authority and that of the  Read more...
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Genre/Form: History
Additional Physical Format: Online version:
Ehrenreich, Barbara.
Witches, midwives and nurses.
London : Writers and Readers Pub. Cooperative, 1976
(OCoLC)654812397
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Barbara Ehrenreich; Deirdre English
ISBN: 0904613240 9780904613247
OCLC Number: 3917991
Description: 63 pages : illustrations, facsimiles ; 21 cm
Responsibility: by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English.

Abstract:

Traditionally women have been healers who also used empirical evidence and proven techniques to heal. Yet male "doctors", who based their healing practices on the whims of the Church, continuously tried to discredit these successful healers. Throughout the 14th-17th centuries in Europe, these doctors labeled women healers witches and had them executed to maintain their authority and their authority and that of the Church and the ruling class. These witches treated peasants and may have led peasant rebellions. Another way of barring women from the male and, supposedly, "correct" system was establishing medical schools in Medieval Europe which barred women. These techniques were successful in that the emerging middle classes viewed traditional women healers as superstitious and even went so far as to allow males into the last preserve of female healing--midwifery. In colonial America and the early years of the US, women partook equally in people's medicine. Anyone who claimed to heal--regardless of sex, race, or formal training- -could practice medicine. In the early 1800s, however, a group of male, middle class "regular" doctors began their campaign to rid the US of lay practitioners. The Popular Health Movement of the 1830s-1840s set them back, however, and the working class denounced medical elitism. On the offensive in 1848, the regulars formed a national professional organization called the American Medical Association. This began the suppression of women practitioners which included suggesting that respectable women would not travel at night and barring women from medical schools. Further, the medical profession put pressure on states to outlaw midwifery and allow doctors only to practice obstetrics. Nursing remained that last female domain in health and, due to nurse reformers, nurses became subservient, patient, obedient helpers. Women had found their "rightful" place in medicine.

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