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Sex, Sickness, and SlaveryIllness in the Antebellum South$
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Marli F. Weiner and Mazie Hough

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780252036996

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252036996.001.0001

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The Diseased Body

The Diseased Body

Chapter:
(p.183) Chapter 7 The Diseased Body
Source:
Sex, Sickness, and Slavery
Author(s):

Marli F. Weiner

Mazie Hough

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5406/illinois/9780252036996.003.0008

This chapter shows that laypeople's views about bodies were important to physicians because they defined the parameters of what was possible within the daily practice of medicine. Members of both races and sexes sought ways to be healthy and to find meaning in the suffering of their bodies. For whites, the meaning of their bodies was expressed as commonsense truisms that linked body and mind in a web of responsibility for health and sickness. Slaves believed that they were less personally responsible for the state of their health and instead recognized the importance of the physical conditions imposed upon them by their owners. This chapter examines how physicians tried to reconcile sex and race as they sought to understand their patients' bodies and minds, in part by obtaining consent from them. It also considers how physicians claimed for themselves the responsibility of defining the mind–body connection as well as health and disease for everyone in the South.

Keywords:   physicians, medicine, race, sex, health, slaves, consent, mind–body connection, laypeople, whites

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