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Origin of the Term 'Internal Medicine'

Franz Rodríguez-Erdmann, MD
Arch Intern Med. 1983;143(1):184. doi:10.1001/archinte.1983.00350010196049.
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To the Editor.  —While the names of some disciplines of medicine are descriptive and etymologically understood (eg, pediatrics, dermatology, and psychiatry), the term "internal medicine" is the result of an approach. Recently, its origin was traced to Germany of the 1880s.1 In turn, the profound German influence on the developing medicine of the United States at the beginning of this century led to the adoption of this term. However, is this indeed a German invention?In the French terminology, medicine was divided into internal pathology (for those interested in internal organs) and external pathology (for those dealing with external manipulations). Classic textbooks of these two subjects are well known.2,3 At the Faculté de Médicine de Paris, a course entitled "Internal Pathology" was taught more than 150 years ago by the renowned clinician François Broussais (1772-1838). Accounts of his classes in 1819 exist. Also an account of the course


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