A study of the development of nursing will throw light on some of the problems of the past, how they have been solved and how nursing has progressed rapidly despite various hindrances.
The paternal and maternal instinct in a human being is the main source of the nursing impulse, and is found in the hearts of people of all ages. A mother's care for her sick child always found expression in such acts to alleviate pain and help the child to get better.
In a society, the noblest forms of humanitarianism are showing mercy, love and kindness to those in physical or mental distress. When this impulse or hmotive is re-enforced by religious philosophies and beliefs, it inspires people to live a life of service and of self-sacrifice for the sake of others.
Along with this spirit, special training and experience has made nursing an ideal and useful profession.
Myths, songs and other findings of the archaeologists throw some light on prehistoric man's care for this sick. In the pre-historic era, it was believed that illness was caused by evil spirits within the body.
In order to get rid of the evil spirit, the body had to be ill-treated. This was done by starving, beating, and administering nauseous medicines, beating of drums, magic rites and ceremonies and by causing sudden fright. Sometimes holes were made in the affected parts of the body to allow the evil spirit to escape.
Besides this, there were also many other ways of
treating illness. Primitive man's skill in fighting disease has given us many
medical and surgical treatments such as massage fomentations, trephining, bone
setting, hot and cold baths, etc. The doctor cum nurse in such cases was the
medicine man or the witch doctor or the priest physician.