‘Very Much Eased’: Being a Patient

Hannah Newton

in The Sick Child in Early Modern England, 1580-1720

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199650491
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741647 | DOI:
‘Very Much Eased’: Being a Patient

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Taking the elusive perspective of the sick child, this chapter asks what it was like being a patient during the early modern period: it explores the social, emotional, and physical experiences of patienthood. Although the term ‘patienthood’ usually refers to the state of receiving medical treatment, in this chapter its definition is extended to encompass all the other aspects of care that were provided in addition to medicine, such as prayer, nursing, and the preparation for death. Historians have tended to paint deeply negative pictures of early modern patienthood, which centre on the backwardness of medicine at this time. This chapter argues that the experience was actually far more complicated and mixed, involving some agreeable as well as disagreeable elements. For instance, young patients experienced power and powerlessness, hope and despair, relief and pain. The chapter is structured around a number of these themes.

Keywords: child; patient; care; medicine; prayer; nursing; attention; love; power; pain

Chapter.  15786 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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