THE ECLECTICS by Elisha Barker, Intermediate Student, 2011

Eclecticism is a conceptual approach that does not hold rigidly to a single paradigm or set of assumptions, but instead draws upon multiple theories, styles, or ideas to gain complementary insights into a subject, or applies different theories in particular cases

The word "Eclectic" originates from the Greek word Eklego, which means to "choose" from. A physician named Constantine Samual Rafineque, who spent his time living among Native Americans and studied medicinal plants, devised the term. He formed this term to refer to those physicians who practiced whatever was found to be beneficial to the patients, as opposed to those who sought substances to heal the disease present, not the patient.

Back in the beginning of the 19th century, a group of doctors called themselves the Eclectics because they were physicians who practiced using a philosophy of "alignment with nature". They used theories and concepts from regular medical schools, but combined the two philosophies together to create an unobtrusive approach.

They practiced a milder method of drug therapy and tried to find a radical simplification of the medical ancients like Hippocrates, Galen and Paracelsus. They studied and observed medicinal plants publishing many vital textbooks and significant Materia Medica's. They opposed conventional techniques of bleeding, cupping, blistering, chemical purging, as well as the use of mercury compounds, which the prevalent doctors used at that time. They recognized the importance of being able to diagnose the disease in its entirety, but thought it better to forget the patient's disease and focus on the conditions that were present.

Samual Thomson (1769-1843) was born just before the eclectic movement took off, he himself wasn't an eclectic, however he was a influential person who practiced and taught alternative medicine using old geek methods, and he was the instigator of this eclectic movement. He repelled against orthodox remedies and employed using less harsh approaches to cure the ill. He studied Native American herb lore and learned from local root doctors as a young child. He created a "System of Botanic Practice" and created a network of salesmen who sold his theories through seminars to the public making a commission. He named his followers the Thomsonians. Thomson's downfall was that he refused to have anything to do with modern science of medicine, and even looked down on the study of anatomy and physiology, he believed that his system was totally complete. Eventually he became arrogant and refused his followers to have anything to do with regular scientific medicine, estranging those who chose to branch off and continue a study of their own. One of his early, well known students was Whooster Beach. He believed and shared Thomson's passion to for the most part but opposed the restrictive and authoritarian views Thomson had towards the scientific approach.