No families take so little medicine as those of doctors, except those of apothecaries.

—Oliver Wendell Holmes, 1860

Keep away from physicians. It is all probing and guessing and pretending with them. They leave it to nature to cure in her own time, but they take the credit. As well as very fat fees.

—Anthony Burgess, 1964

Be temperate in wine, in eating, girls, and sloth, or the Gout will seize you.

—Benjamin Franklin, 1734

Health indeed is a precious thing, to recover and preserve which we undergo any misery, drink bitter potions, freely give our goods—restore a man to his health, his purse lies open to thee.

—Robert Burton, 1621

We have to ask ourselves whether medicine is to remain a humanitarian and respected profession or a new but depersonalized science in the service of prolonging life rather than diminishing human suffering.

—Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, 1969

The only places where American medicine can fully live up to its possibilities are the teaching hospitals.

—Bernard De Voto, 1951

I am dying with the help of too many physicians.

—Alexander the Great, c. 323 BC

You can’t find the soul with a scalpel.

—Gustave Flaubert, c. 1880

To get back my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable.

—Oscar Wilde, 1891

How many desolate creatures on the earth have learnt the simple dues of fellowship and social comfort in a hospital.

—Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 1857

The doctor occupies a seat in the front row of the stalls of the human drama, and is constantly watching and even intervening in the tragedies, comedies, and tragicomedies which form the raw material of the literary art.

—W. Russell Brain, 1952

He is the best physician who is the most ingenious inspirer of hope.

—Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1833

Well now, there’s a remedy for everything except death.

—Miguel de Cervantes, 1605

In the name of Hippocrates doctors have invented the most exquisite form of torture ever known to man: survival.

—Luis Buñuel, 1983

Let the young know they will never find a more interesting, more instructive book than the patient himself.

—Giorgio Baglivi, c. 1696

It is not a case we are treating; it is a living, palpitating, alas, too often suffering fellow creature.

—John Brown, 1904

Physician, heal yourself: thus you help your patient too. Let his best help be to see with his own eyes the man who makes himself well.

—Friedrich Nietzsche, c. 1884

I have yet, I believe, some years in store, for I have a good state of health and a happy mind, and I take care of both by nourishing the first with temperance and the latter with abundance. This, I believe, you will allow to be the true philosophy of life.

—Thomas Paine, 1803

To be sick is to enjoy monarchal prerogatives.

—Charles Lamb, 1833

The doctor should be opaque to his patients and, like a mirror, should show them nothing but what is shown to him.

—Sigmund Freud, 1912

All pain is one malady with many names.

—Antiphanes, c. 400 BC

A miracle drug is any drug that will do what the label says it will do.

—Eric Hodgins, 1964

The physician should look upon the patient as a besieged city and try to rescue him with every means that art and science place at his command.

—Alexander of Tralles, c. 600

Doctors don’t know everything really. They understand matter, not spirit. And you and I live in spirit.

—William Saroyan, 1943

The best physician is he who can distinguish the possible from the impossible.

—Herophilus, c. 290 BC

If a patient is poor, he is committed to a public hospital as “psychotic”; if he can afford the luxury of a private sanitarium, he is put there with the diagnosis of “neurasthenia”; if he is wealthy enough to be isolated in his own home under constant watch of nurses and physicians, he is simply an indisposed “eccentric.”

—Pierre Marie Janet, 1930

Because the newer methods of treatment are good, it does not follow that the old ones were bad: for if our honorable and worshipful ancestors had not recovered from their ailments, you and I would not be here today.

—Confucius, c. 515 BC

I reckon being ill as one of the greatest pleasures of life, provided one is not too ill and is not obliged to work until one is better.

—Samuel Butler, 1903

There must be quite a few things a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them.

—Sylvia Plath, 1963

Let me recommend the best medicine in the world: a long journey, at a mild season, through a pleasant country, in easy stages.

—James Madison, 1794

The poets did well to conjoin music and medicine, because the office of medicine is but to tune the curious harp of man’s body.

—Francis Bacon, 1605

When the physician said to him, “You have lived to be an old man,” he said, “That is because I never employed you as my physician.”

—Pausanias, c. 450 BC

Medication alone is not to be relied on. In one half the cases medicine is not needed, or is worse than useless. Obedience to spiritual and physical laws—hygiene of the body and hygiene of the spirit—is the surest warrant for health and happiness.

—Harriot K. Hunt, 1856