Normal – Lumping & Splitting


Lumping & Splitting




The problem of variation haunts medical science. In the 19th century, one of the founders of experimental medicine, the French physiologist Claude Bernard, claimed that individual variability was an obstacle to medical judgment. If we could show that the abnormal was a mere quantitative deviation from the normal, he wrote, we would possess the key to treating any given individual, no matter how he or she veered from the rest. After all, if the pathological is merely a deviation from the normal, then not only the aim but the very possibility of the therapeutic act becomes clear: return the sick individual, organ, cell or system back to a normal state.