Among the many memorable solecisms attributed to the late Samuel Goldwyn is his comment on a derogatory critique by a movie reviewer. "The critique," quipped Goldwyn, "isn't even worth to be ignored." This zany quip comes to mind on reading that "The medical man is trained to recognize only acute symptoms, just as he is trained to treat such symptoms rather than their causes."1
The above statement might have made some sense in the distant past when symptoms were often confused with diseases. Fever was a disease as well as a symptom, and so were the colic, yellow jaundice, and edema—the medium, to use a McLuhanism, was the message. Modern medicine clearly differentiates between symptoms and diseases. Treatment of symptoms, particularly of acute symptoms, is but a small part of the medical curriculum. The emphasis now is on recognition of causes of symptoms, on precise diagnosis of disease.