Laennec: His Life and Times

William B. Bean, M.D.
Arch Intern Med. 1963;111(2):267-268. doi:10.1001/archinte.1963.03620260127025.
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The picture of Laennec as a somewhat austere, proud, sensitive person, racked with tuberculosis, who made probably the greatest contribution to physical diagnosis in the history of medicine, remains in our minds from earlier biographical sketches. Laennec stood at the pinnacle of French clinical medicine in the great period from 1800 to 1850 when the powerful upsurge of vigor, so strangely risen out of the Napoleonic wars, was flowering in a regeneration and revival of medicine in Paris. Over the span of a few decades Corvisart, Bayle, Dupuytren, Larry, Pinel, Bichat, and a host of somewhat lesser lights were advancing the cause of clinical medicine. They seized the opportunity to observe disease in sick patients very critically during life and got the results of their observations verified, altered, or corrected by autopsies which were done routinely, almost invariably, in the large Paris hospitals. Paris during these years had already become


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