in Medical misadventure in an age of professionalisation, 1780–1890
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Medical misadventure was frequently a matter of public record, but some forms of career turbulence were more readily acknowledged than others. Medical suicide was the most problematic phenomenon for shaping professional conduct. Practitioners who served in India, for example, and who were later thought to suffer from unsoundness of mind, were in effect exonerated from personal culpability. Medical professionalism and masculinity would have been more gently guided by an acceptance of inadequacy or limitation, to 'counsel the adoption of what might be termed a "modest" approach to the affairs of life'. Medical misadventure is inevitable, but if the experience of nineteenth-century practitioners is at all illustrative, its deployment for setting professional boundaries has been misconceived. Medical reputations were further complicated by the Contagious Diseases Acts, which first appeared to endorse medical intervention for the good of public health but then attracted outspoken opposition to compulsory examination.


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