Ex-votos, Milagros and Tamatas

  1. Published on November 7, 2011

The use of scientific principles gave 19th century medicine a new found credibility and the formation of professional bodies and accountability improved the reputation of its doctors.

An Antique Silver Ex-Voto for a sufferer of throat or neck disease

But the monopoly on medical knowledge would be short lived. Through the internet we now see quackery in established practice and cures in yesterday’s witchcraft.

However, despite having what seems like a wealth of facts available to us we have barely scratched the surface.

Evidence based medicine still fails us, and when it does we seek out miracle cures. Even when it does not we continue to lay Milagros (literally ‘miracles’), Ex- votos and Tamatas at the feet of our Gods.

Many patients seek solace in magic or mystery, and look for clinicians who either recognise a pastoral element in their role, or who accept that there is more to their profession than simple science. Hardly a surprise when science in its infancy so rarely answers all our physical needs, much less the demands of social, psychological and spiritual wellbeing.

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