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A Frugal Physician Prescribes
Common Sense and Enthusiasm

Save Money, Learn about Real Health, Understand the Medical System

Here are some brief bios of physicians
who fit the title.
Frugal Physicians from the Past
Robert Mendelsohn picRobert Mendelsohn
(1926 – 1988)

Robert was a pediatrician who criticized his profession with especial attention to pediatrics and obstetrics. He also decried coronary bypass surgery, overuse of X-rays, and vaccination.

Mendelsohn was an instructor at Northwestern University Medical College and later professor of pediatrics and community health and preventive medicine at the University of Illinois College of Medicine.

He often spoke at NHF conventions and produced a newsletter and a syndicated newspaper column, both called The People's Doctor. He appeared on over 500 television and radio talk shows.

Dr. Mendelsohn called himself a "medical heretic." One of his books charged that, "Modern Medicine's treatments for disease are seldom effective, and they're often more dangerous than the diseases they're designed to treat. Around ninety percent of surgery is a waste of time, energy, money and life." (Wikipedia)

You might expect he encountered opposition from his profession and eventually lost a few battles and jobs because of his outspoken positions which told another side of the medical story.

1980, Confessions of a Medical Heretic
1982, Male Practice: How Doctors Manipulate Women
1987, How To Raise a Healthy Child In Spite of Your Doctor

Norman Cousins

Anatomy of an Illness Cover
Norman Cousins
(1915 – 1990)

Norman was not trained as a physician, but he filled that bill in a number of ways in later life. He was first a political journalist, author, and public advocate.

He worked his way through the ranks of journalism to be editor for the New York Evening Post and Saturday Review. Cousins was an accomplished and busy writer whose special interests were disarmament and world peace. But, he came to most prominence because of his illnesses, ankylosing spondylitis and heart disease.

While Cousins gave ample praise to his physicians for bringing him through his medical challenges, it was Cousins himself who deserves the credit for finding novel ways to deal with disease. Told that he had little chance of surviving, Cousins developed a recovery program incorporating megadoses of Vitamin C, along with a positive attitude, love, faith, hope, and laughter induced by Marx Brothers films. "I made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep," he reported. "When the pain-killing effect of the laughter wore off, we would switch on the motion picture projector again and not infrequently, it would lead to another pain-free interval." (Not to be outdone, experts later cast doubt on the diagnosis.)

Out of his experience, he wrote a bestseller called Anatomy of an Illness. He went on to become Adjunct Professor of Medical Humanities for the School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he did research on the biochemistry of human emotions.

Cousins received over 50 honorary degrees from a variety of institutions of higher education. Hopefully one of them was a doctorate in medicine.
Pioneer Doctor CoverMollie Babcock Atwater
(1855 - 1941)

Mollie (Mary) was an early American woman physician who was called the Pioneer Doctor by Mari Grana in her book tribute to her grandmother.

Dr. Mollie gave up a great deal to practice medicine. Her husband originally supported her efforts, but eventually turned against her when she graduated and stood at the same professional level. Mollie left life in the Midwest and moved to Salt Lake City. When her money was about to run out, she found a job doctoring in a mining camp in Bannack, Montana.

Slowly, she made her way as woman physician in a man’s world. Medicine was much cruder then than now. Technology was non-existent. Yet, physicians and patients had living connections with each other. Mollie filled the shoes of frontier physician as well as public health worker and community advocate.

Dr. Mollie eventually found a real husband in Mr. Atwater, moved to Helena, and became a force for women’s rights and suffrage.

Mari Grana wrote her book in 2005, long after Grandmother's death. Mari was also over 70 years old herself when she penned the book. The book is a credit to both Mollie and her granddaughter. Pioneer Doctor: The Story of a Woman’s Work may be worth your reading if you care to know what it was like in frontier Montana, bits about medicine in the late 19th century, and how a woman made her way.

People Medicine