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Symptoms of visceral disease

by Francis Marion Pottinger sixth edition 1944

This is undoubtedly a core diagnostic book and the explanations of the reflex nature of clinical symptoms are legendary. The preface to the sixth edition sets out well the scope that this book covers. The following is based on a paraphrasing of this and direct quotes are in bold.

'The practice of medicine is a continuous attempt on the part of the physicians to understand the manner I which the patient expresses disease through his physiologic systems'

Because this book is based on biological truths it is underpinning to traditional osteopathic practice, Pottinger breaks down visceral and somatic relationships to neurons that take origin in the various segments of the cord (spinal) describing reflexes that result from this relationship.

Reflex pains, spasms and degenerations are described and the various neurological connections mediating impulses from inflamed or irritated viscera are exposed to understanding.

'Physiological reflexes do not shift, so if the clinician knows his segmental relationships, he can reason from organ to the zone of the reflex or from the zone of the reflex back to the organ.

If 'physiological reflexes do not shift' it begs the question as to why this work has been largely discarded by our profession as 'out of date' This book should be a core part of any osteopathic teaching because it brings together an understanding of the reflex nature of the human body that is often never seen in modern physiology books.

Written at a time when medicine still had practitioners with open, inquiring minds, capable of disseminating biological truths without fear of persecution from corporate or political interests.

As totally relevant today as it was when it was written, this is a timeless classic and deserves to be acknowledged as such.


    Book review by Howard Beardmore DO



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