'Trouble from within': Allergy, autoimmunity, and pathology in the first half of the twentieth century
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 34 (3):425-454 (2003)
Traditionally, autoimmune disease has been considered to be a case of false recognition; the immune system mistakenly identifies 'self' tissues as foreign, attacking them thus causing damage and malady. Accordingly, the history of autoimmunity is usually told as part ot the history of immunology, that is, of theories and experiments relating to the ability of the immune system to discriminate between self and nonself. This paper challenges this view, claiming that the emergence of the notion of autoimmunity in the 1950s must be considered as part of a long develolpment in thought about pathology throughout the twentieth century, namely the conceptualisaiton of disease as a reactive and self-destructive process. During the first part of the twentieth century this notion became one of the cornerstones of pathology and was increasingly employed for the explanation of the non-infections, slow-burning diseases. Thus, the category of chronic disease had been defined anew, now encompassing all those diseases characterised by a persistent inflammatory process. Inflammation, in turn, was conceived as double-eged physiological mechanism, which was usually the direct mediator of damage, of the essence of disease. The paper also shows how this kind of analysis could emable a unified historical discussion of autoimmunity and allergy, hitherto considered to have distinct conceptual origins.
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References found in this work BETA
Immunity and its Other: The Anaphylactic Selves of Charles Richet.K. Kroker - 1999 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 30 (3):273-296.
Ehrlich's "Beautiful Pictures" and the Controversial Beginnings of Immunological Imagery.Alberto Cambrosio, Daniel Jacobi & Peter Keating - 1993 - Isis: A Journal of the History of Science 84:662-699.
Citations of this work BETA
Biotherapies of Chronic Diseases in the Inter-War Period: From Witte's Peptone to Penicillium Extract.Ilana Löwy - 2005 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 36 (4):675-695.
Imagining 'Reactivity': Allergy Within the History of Immunology.Michelle Jamieson - 2010 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 41 (4):356-366.
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