(#16, Version 5.0)
The Physician's Caste is one of the five High Castes on Gor, the fourth highest of those castes. Their Caste color is green so most Physicians wear green tunics. Though it is not explicit in the books, it seems logical that many medical specializations would form subcastes of the Physician's Caste. Obstetrics, immunology, pediatrics, and such would make valid subcastes. Certain other specializations would not be necessary on Gor so would be unlikely to form subcastes. Dentistry, psychiatry and geriatrics are fields where the need on Gor is low so they are unlikely to form full subcastes. Major cities would have a Cylinder of Physicians as they do in Ar. Though this is not described in any great detail, it appears it would contain a hospital, research laboratories, a library and maybe even living quarters for some Physicians. Each city would also have their own High Council of Physicians to aid in the governance of that caste within the city. Each Physician's Caste, in every different city, is basically autonomous.
But, Physicians from different cities do find ways to interact with each other. The Sardar Fairs, the four major fairs held each year on the plains below the Sardar Mountains, are a spectular place for the Physicians, and other Castes, to meet and share information. Caste conventions may be able to discuss general caste-wide issues. Research can be shared and compared. New discoveries spread across Gor at these fairs. These fairs are very important to the Physician's Caste.
The Physician's Caste is one of the Castes where many women actually engage in Caste work. But, in many cities, women cannot engage in the full practice of medicine until they have first bore two children. This is not a law in all cities though. Commonly, at age fifteen, a woman will don two bracelets on her left wrist. One bracelet is removed for each child born. The reason behind this prerequisite is that it is understood that professional women tend not to reproduce themselves. If this were permitted, it would serve over time to diminish the quality and size of the Caste. Thus, the rule helps to preserve the future of the Caste. The welfare of the Caste takes priority over the ambitions of specific individuals. The welfare of a larger number of individuals is more important than the welfare of a smaller number of individuals. This is an accepted given when dealing with the vast majority of Goreans. Until the woman bears two children, she will be restricted in her medical duties though the books do not detail what those specific restrictions might be. It is possible that the distinction might be what we would consider the difference between being a nurse and being a doctor.
Unfortunately, Gorean medicine is not depicted in great detail in the novels. In some ways, it is more primitive than Earth medicine. Goreans do not possess computers to help them in diagnosis or research. They do possess though many diagnostic machines that do not use computers. But, in many other ways, Gorean medicine is far more advanced than Earth. Gor has created potent drugs and serums that Earth only dreams about. And they created them without the aid of computers. Deciding what is permissible and not in Gorean medicine is not always easy due to the dearth of material in the novels on the subject.
Disease prevention is an area where Gorean medicine far surpasses Earth medicine. Disease is almost unknown on Gor except for a very few horrible diseases such as Dar-kosis and the Bazi plague. It is probably only a matter of time before even these diseases are cured.
Dar-kosis is a virulent, wasting disease and is similar in many ways to leprosy. "Dar-kosis" means "Holy Disease" and it is also known as the "Sacred Affliction" though its name is rarely mentioned. Those inflicted with the disease are commonly known as Afflicted Ones. It is highly contagious and the afflicted must wear yellow robes as a mark of their illness. Many victims also periodically clack a wooden device to warn people to stay away. Because of this, victims have much freedom of movement though if they approach a city, they risk being stoned. "Those who contract the disease are regarded by law as dead." (Assassin of Gor, p.266) This has important legal ramifications. A Free Companionship would be ended. Any will would take effect. The Afflicted lose everything. "The Afflicted are dead. The Afflicted are nameless." (Tarnsman of Gor, p.151)
The Initiate Caste feels that Dar-kosis is an instrument of the Priest-Kings to punish those who displease them. The afflicted are thus holy to the Priest Kings and it is heresy to shed their blood. Interestingly though, stoning them is not considered heresy. Initiates have constructed Dar-Kosis pits where the Afflicted may voluntarily imprison themselves. They will be provided with food and drink by men on tarns, who will drop it into the pits. Once in a Pit, an Afflicted is not permitted to leave. Because it is considered a holy disease, the Initiates will not permit the Physician's Caste to research a cure. There is little love lost between the Physicians and Initiates.
A few years before the events of Assassin of Gor, a group of Physicians in Ar tried to seek a cure. Flaminius, first in his Caste, led the research program. The Physicians had developed a strain of urts resistant to Dar-kosis. They then created a serum, cultured from the urt blood. When this was injected into other animals, they could not be infected by the disease. But at that time, someone betrayed them to the Initiates. The Initiates asked them to stop the research but they refused. The Initiates petitioned Marlenus but he refused to do anything. Soon after, a group of armed men stormed the Cylinder of Physicians. They damaged the Cylinder, burnt the research floors, killed some of the Physicians and ruined most of the research. That would stop their research for several years. Flaminius was burned over half his body and became somewhat of a drunk. After the events of Assassin of Gor, Flaminius chooses to return to his research for a Dar-Kosis cure.
Bazi plague, also known as the pox, is a deadly, rapidly-spreading disease with no known cure. Its symptoms include pustules all over the body and a yellowing of the whites of the eyes. The pox is transmitted by lice. Some people are immune to it and for some it is only a temporary problem. Others die swiftly. Slaves that get the pox are usually killed. Bazi was struck by a plague some years ago and its port was closed by the Merchant's Caste for two years. The plague burnt itself out in about eighteen months. By the events of Explorers of Gor, Bazi has still not recovered from the economic tragedy of this closure. In Schendi, they still had Physicians checking incoming ships for signs of disease. Gieron and sajel are drugs that in combination can reproduce the physical effects of this disease without causing any real injury. Gieron is an allergen that causes a yellowing of the whites of the eyes. Sajel is a simple pustulant.
Dental work on Gor is rarely done or needed. Due to its rarity, dentistry is probably not a subcaste. There would be insufficient work to support such a specialist. Cavities are rare because of the simple diet of Goreans and their absence of emotional stress, guilt, and worry. The mouths of slave girls are often checked by a buyer or slaver to see if she has fillings or not. That is normally a sign that the girl is from Earth due to the rarity of dental work on Gor.
Physicians have machines to examine blood, urine, tissue, hair and other samples. They have a machine like a microscope. Many of their tests and instruments are similar to what you would find in an Earth doctor's office. They would use energy bulbs, despite the expense, to have adequate light for their work. Physicians have numerous drugs available that are often administered through hypodermics. Numerous drugs may also be orally taken. Though some online feel that Gorean physicians are more like herbalists, they actually use very advanced drugs. Many of those drugs are derived from plants and herbs but it is rare for those plants and herbs to be applied directly to a patient. And as Earth doctors use Latin often, Gorean doctors keep their records in archaic Gor.
You must remember that we are talking about the Physician's Caste that exists in the civilized cities. In some of the more barbaric areas of Gor, such as the Barrens, the Plains of Turia and the jungles near Schendi, the Caste does not exist. In those areas, their medicine is much more primitive. They do not possess medical machines or advanced drugs. They rely more heavily on natural cures, using herbs and plants. Their healers would be more like herbalists.
The Physician's Caste has designed a few drugs that are commonly used by Slavers and others with similar objectives. Capture scent is similar to chloroform. It is a liquid that is soaked into a rag and held over a person's nose and mouth. It will render a woman unconscious in about five Ihn. She will only squirm wildly for an Ihn or two and then will get sluggish until she falls limp. It might take a bit longer against a man. Anesthetic darts, which may be either flung or used to stab, may also sometimes be used though they take longer to work, about forty Ihn. Tassa powder is a reddish powder that can render one unconscious. It is tasteless but meant to be mixed with something red wine as it would be visible in water. Free women are often advised not to drink red wine with strangers because who knows what might be in it.
Slave wine is a Gorean contraceptive, and much more effective than any Earth one. In liquid form, women drink it and are protected against conception. It works basically immediately. It is intentionally bitter when given to slaves though for free women it might be sweetened. The active ingredient in slave wine is sip root. In its raw form, sip root can be chewed and used as a contraceptive. The raw root is bitter and this is what comes through in the liquid. In root form, its effects will last for three to four moons. The Red Savages in the Barrens use sip root in its raw form. It is likely other barbaric cultures do the same. In its concentrated liquid form, the effects of slave wine now last indefinitely. This was not always the case. In the beginning of the Gor series, slave wine only lasted a month or so. But by Blood Brothers of Gor, medical technology has advanced and its effects are now indefinite. Despite this fact, many masters still administer slave wine to their kajirae once or twice a year. This is done out of tradition and to remind girls of their slavery. The effects of slave wine can be nullified by a special releaser, an antidote called breeding or second wine. This is a smooth and sweet drink. Its active ingredient is a derivative of the teslik plant.
There is no evidence in the books to suggest that slave wine can cause an abortion or miscarriage. There is also no evidence to show that it is harmful to a pregnant woman. Children are very important to Goreans and abortion would go against much of what they believe. Free women may sell their children after birth, but they would not abort a child if they were pregnant.
The zenith of Gorean medicine has to be the Stabilization Serums. This Serum is a life extending treatment. It was developed some five hundred years ago by the Physician's Castes of Koroba and Ar and transmitted to other Physicians at the Sardar Fairs. Aging was seen as a disease, not an inevitable fate. Centuries of research went into seeking a cure for aging. Unfortunately, this also meant that research into cures for other diseases was ignored. Many people, who were susceptible to those diseases, died during that time. As it was only the resistant that survived, this did tend to strengthen stock. Some diseases died out and others would be later cured once the Stabilization Serums were created.
The effect of the Serums is an eventual, gradual transformation of certain genetic structures, resulting in indefinite cell replacement without pattern deterioration. It affects all people differently and on some rare occasions doesn't work. In some rare people, it wears off after only a few hundred years and sometimes it even hastens aging. It is also capable of being transmitted to offspring. The initial Serums were crude but they have been carefully refined over the years. The Priest-Kings possess better Serums but they are for their use only. Goreans consider it the right of all people, free and slave, barbarian or civilized, to have the Serums. They do not deny the Serums to anyone. The Serums are given in a series of four shots, one shot a day for four days in a row. They are injected into the small of the back, over the left hip. On the fifth day, they can take a sample from you to ensure that the Serums have taken hold. Matthew Cabot is the only known person in the books to benefit from the Serums. He came to Gor over 600 years ago.
The books briefly mention a number of other drugs and medicines used on Gor. Laxatives and emetics exist. For a more natural purgative, the leaves of the brak bush can be chewed. A Physician mixed several different powders, each in their own goblet of water, and gave them to a new slave from Earth. The reasons for this were not explained though it is possible he was trying to inoculate her from disease. He also gave her the Serums at this time as well. There is another drug, in liquid form, that is a type of hypnotic. It relaxes you, inducing an altered state of consciousness. You can then recall details hidden in your memory and are also responsive to suggestions. A Tuchuk once placed a dark, bluish powder in some amber fluid. He made a slave drink it and she went to sleep. Slave dip is a drug used much like a flea powder. Many ports require that all slaves coming off a ship must first be immersed in slave dip to destroy any parasites they might be carrying. There are even drugs used on animals such as tranquilizers or slow drugs.
The slave goad was an invention developed jointly by the Physician and Builder Castes. The Physician's Caste contributed their knowledge of the pain fibers of humans, the networks of nerve endings. The Builder's Caste contributed the principles and techniques that were first developed for energy bulbs. The slave goad is similar to the tarn goad but is has been modified to use on humans. It has a switch and a dial. The dial adjusts the intensity from unpleasant to instantly lethal. When it strikes a person, it emits a shower of yellow sparks. When the dial is at the lethal setting, the tip glows very hot and is even difficult to look at. Because it is very expensive, it is almost never used except by professional Slavers and is unknown in many cities.
A common function for Physicians is to tend to wounded Warriors. Physicians clean, chemically sterilize and dress wounds. For tending to a minor wound, a Physician received a tarsk bit for his services. This is the only time any fee or payment is mentioned for a Physician. Physician's tape is mentioned though not described. Stitches and sutures are likely to be common though they are not mentioned in the books. Though casts are never mentioned in the books, it seems that they would also exist. Casts are easy to make. Surgery is performed by Physicians though advanced computer monitoring is not available to them. For most purposes, Physicians on Gor would treat wounds like any doctor from Earth.
There is little cold storage on Gor. Ice is commonly a luxury, especially in the summer. Ice blocks would be cut from ponds in the winter and then stored in icehouses under sawdust. Physicians might require cold storage for certain medical supplies. It seems likely that a place like the Cylinder of Physicians would have a cold storage area. The storage of certain medical supplies would be important enough to pay the expense to do so. A small Physician's office on the other hand might not have the financial resources to have his own cold storage area.
Plastic exists on Gor. Though it is rarely mentioned in the books, it is available. Many Goreans would not use plastic as it is not quite a natural material. They generally prefer wood, stone and metal. Physicians may be more apt to use plastic though in their practice.
Physicians rarely encounter other problems that are common to Earth. Heart attacks and cholesterol problems would be very rare. Frequent exercise and low fat diets would help prevent this. Without the massive technology and pollutants of Earth, most forms of cancer would also be rare. Psychiatrists and psychologists may not exist on Gor as most people seem quite content with their lot in life. Physician's are sometimes asked certain psychological questions though it would not be the norm. For example, free women sometimes ask what they can do about being frigid. The standard advice given is often to learn slave dance. Goreans freely accept the Caste system and the institution of slavery. Most Goreans are happy and very well adjusted. Overall, Goreans lead healthier lives than Earth people.
Some slaves may possess medical skills. In general, these women will have once been of the Physician's Caste and were later enslaved. It would be unusual for a slave to learn medical skills after her enslavement. If she did learn any such skills, they would most likely be very basic matters. Goreans would not waste advanced medical training on a mere slave. If a former Physician had been enslaved, there is the question of whether she would be permitted to practice medicine or not. Remember that once enslaved they no longer have a Caste. They no longer belong to the Physician's Caste even though they have the requisite skills. Many Goreans would not want a slave tending to them. Some might even fear the slave, especially if surgery was needed. A slave's owner is the one most likely to allow that slave to practice her medical skills.
Here are a couple brief items concerning other medical issues:
Children on Gor appear to be breast fed and not bottle fed. There was a passage of a veiled and robed woman in Tor who had her baby inside her cloak and was nursing it.
Menstruation was mentioned within the books. There was a passage describing a custom concerning Red Savage women. They commonly wore their hair knotted in a bun on the top of their head. But, during their menstrual period, they would wear their hair loose.
Role-play opportunities for Physicians abound if you use some creativity. It seems many online Physicians simply are on call, rushing to one medical emergency or another. They become part of someone else's story-line and not their own. As it is someone else's story-line, that person generally calls the shots in what will happen. The Physician simply abides by the desires of that person. Though that is a necessary part of role-play, being the center of your own story-line is also very exciting. What other opportunities exist for a Physician?
Research can be an exciting area. Seeking a cure for Dar-Kosis or Bazi plague can be a challenging story-line. Each would present its own unique obstacles. With Dar-Kosis, you would have to deal with angry Initiates who would try to stop your research if they became aware of it. Doing research to refine or better existing medicines is also a possibility. Look how slave wine was improved over the series. Forensics is another area open to potential. Doing autopsies and forensic investigations to solve crimes can lead to many role-play opportunities. Was that man poisoned or did he simply die of an aneurysm?
(I have included a short story concerning a Physician and an intersting story-line. I hope you enjoy it.) Target Earth by UbarLuther.