John Abercrombie (physician)

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John Abercrombie (10 October 1780 in Aberdeen – 14 November 1844 in Edinburgh) was a Scottish physician and philosopher. The Chambers Biographical Dictionary says of him that after Dr James Gregory's death, he was "recognized as the first consulting physician in Scotland".[1]

The son of the Reverend George Abercrombie of Aberdeen, he was educated at the Grammar School and Marischal College, University of Aberdeen. He studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, and after graduating as M.D. in 1803 he settled down to practise in that city, where he soon attained a leading position.

From 1816 he published various papers in the Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal, which formed the basis of his more extensive works: Pathological and Practical Researches on Diseases of the Brain and Spinal Cord, regarded as the first textbook in neuropathology, and Researches on the Diseases of the Intestinal Canal, Liver and other Viscera of the Abdomen, both published in 1828. In 1821 he was elected to the Royal College of Surgeons. For his services as a physician and philanthropist he received many marks of distinction, including the Rectorship of Marischal College.

He also found time for philosophical speculations, and in 1830 he published his Inquiries concerning the Intellectual Powers of Man and the Investigation of Truth, which was followed in 1833 by a sequel, The Philosophy of the Moral Feelings. Both works showed little originality of thought; they achieved wide popularity at the time of their publication, but have long been superseded.

In 1841 he was partially paralyzed, but was able to return to his practice of medicine. In 1844 he died of a ruptured coronary artery while preparing to visit patients.


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