About

Hi. I’m Jan Henderson, and this is my blog. I study the history of medicine, and I’m especially interested in how the practice of medicine has changed since the mid-20th century. My interests center on current health issues – health care, pharmaceuticals, the doctor/patient relationship, aging and death – with an eye to both the past and the future.

My formal education taught me to value and respect science. I majored in mathematics at Harvard and received a PhD in the history of science and medicine from Yale. I taught the history of science and medicine at the City University of New York and spent a year as a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.

My graduate school training advocated an ‘internalist’ approach to science and medicine: limiting scholarship to the examination of original texts. The more I taught, especially survey courses that ranged from pre-historic medical healers to the promise of genetics, the more I was attracted to an ‘externalist’ approach — understanding science as a product of its time and culture. (For an excellent discussion of the internalist/externalist debate, see Steven Shapin, Discipline and Bounding: The History and Sociology of Science as Seen through the Externalism-Internalism Debate.)

I left academics and alternated between writing about things that truly interested me and earning a living. I spent time at a media industry publication (Television/Radio Age), evaluated artificial intelligence software for mainframes, and managed technical documentation and marketing in the personal computer industry.

This site combines my long-standing interests in health, medicine, and the history of ideas. The more I write, the more I gravitate to questions of medicalization, healthism, psychopharmaceuticals, cosmetic surgery, inequality, neoliberalism, the sociology of health, the bioethics of such things as neuroenhancement, and issues raised in the book Against Health.

For more about this site and my quick overview of the Health Culture, see my first post: The Health Culture. Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow. For more about me, see My personal odyssey through the health culture.

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