Scrutineers par excellence

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Jeremy Zung


History of medicine, Charcot, Miller Fisher, neurology


Objective: To compare the observational methods and written medical records in the published writings and biographies of Jean Martin Charcot (1825-1893) and Charles Miller Fisher (1913-2012).
Background: Charcot and Fisher are two eminent clinicians who made pioneering discoveries in neurology through astute clinical-pathologic observation.
Design/Methods: Focused review and analysis of Charcot's and Fisher's publications and biographical materials.
Results: Charcot and Fisher emphasize the primacy of unbiased observation, the value of simultaneous juxtaposition, and the mnemonic value of a vivid mental image or specimen. While Charcot turns to art and photography to depict disease, Fisher extols thorough pathologic investigation. Whereas Charcot's pride sometimes stymies honest description, Fisher's humility and thoroughness passes unsolved puzzles to successors.