Georg Ivanovas From Autism to Humanism - systems theory in medicine

5.3 Hippocratic Medicine

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d) processual diagnosis

Hippocratic thinking was processual. A diagnosis was the functional location in this process. What is with the balance? Is there coction? Where in the order of events are we?

Therefore, Hippocratic medicine attached no value to a diagnosis in a modern understanding (Hippocrates II: ix). Its interest was more in the ‘states’, what has been called “general pathology of morbid conditions” (Hippocrates II: x).

This is a general trait of systemic medicine, found in systemic psychotherapy, in homeopathy or in Chinese medicine, as well. In all these methods a diagnosis defines the patient in a process according to an underlying theory. They are more concerned with the patient and less with the disease.

In Hippocrates' time it was the Cnidan school which attached importance to diagnosis. Hippocrates blamed them for multiplying types by assigning essential importance to accidental traits. Similar discussions on the value of the diagnoses accompany today every new issue of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) or a new key of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD).