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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



primitive methods of medical treatment, well-known among all peoples from antiquity and usually accompanied by various rituals.

In the early stages of the development of mankind, quackery was not differentiated from folk medicine and was practiced by sorcerers (healers and veduny}. However, sorcery was under the influence of theurgic (religious) medicine, in which the belief prevailed that illnesses came from evil spirits. In the class society, people came to use sorcerers in the interests of the religious cult. Gradually, sorcery changed into a profession, a means of enrichment for the sorcerers themselves. With the development of community life, sorcery’s content, form, and views changed considerably. Present-day manifestations of sorcery differ according to such factors as territorial and national peculiarities, the character of traditions, the level of general culture, and the extent of the diffusion of religious prejudices.

Ignorantly borrowing the methods of scientific medicine, the sorcerer reduced treatment to crude, sometimes criminal quackery and frequently resorted to primitive instruments and operations (pathological childbirth and abortions). In capitalist countries, the pharmaceutical market is flooded with patent preparations. Proper control for the issuing of such preparations is not exercised by government agencies. These preparations are promoted by shameless advertising created by private owners of companies, Who become both “healers” and salesmen of their own drugs.

In bourgeois states, particularly in colonial countries and those with weakly developed economies, the inaccessibility of medical help for the vast majority of the workers also furthers the development of quackery. Quackery was wide-spread in prerevolutionary Russia, especially in the villages; the inadequacy of medical aid, superstition, and ignorance were conducive to sorcery. In the outlying national regions of imperial Russia, sorcerers—khakims, tabibs, and khetims — abused the confidence of the working people.

In the USSR, thanks to the growth of the culture and material welfare of the people, the broad availability of free qualified medical help, and the development of hygiene education, quackery has no soil on which to grow. The measures of the Soviet state directed at the development of public health care are important in the struggle against quackery, which is most effective when combined with atheistic propaganda. By Soviet law, criminal accountability has been established for the illegal practice of medicine.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


inferior doctor; formerly a barber performing dentistry and surgery. [Medicine: Misc.]
Dulcamara, Dr.
offered bad burgundy as panacea for lovelessness. [Ital. Opera: Donizetti, Elixir of Love; EB, 5: 953–954]
Rezio, Dr. Baratarian
court physician; practically starves Sancho Panza in the interest of diet. [Span. Lit.: Don Quixote]
Rock, Dr. Richard
fat, 18th-century quack; professed to cure every imaginable disease. [Br. Hist.: Brewer Handbook, 888]
Sangrado, Dr.
ignorant physician; believed blood not necessary for life. [Fr. Lit.: Gil Blas]
Walker, Dr.
great 18th-century quack, forever advising against disreputable doctors. [Br. Hist.: Brewer Handbook, 888]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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