Some Thoughts on the Role of Animals in Medicine

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The backbone of anatomical, physiological and clinical research

[By Stephanie Eichberg]

In 2012, a book appeared on the shelves of popular science that (re)acquainted the public with a medical revelation; namely that animals share with humans a wide range of acute and chronic diseases as well as psychological disorders, and that they can accordingly ‘teach us about being human’.

From the point of view of the history of medicine, it appears strange that this is presented as ‘new’ knowledge, considering human-animal comparisons have long formed the backbone of anatomical, physiological and clinical research.

No matter what historical period you investigate, you’ll find that the diseased bodies, brains and behaviors of animals have always been serving as surrogates for our own afflicted bodies, brains and behaviors.


guinea pig

Some Thoughts on the Role of Animals in Medicine


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