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The Human Body: How We Fail, How We Heal

The Human Body: How We Fail, How We Heal

Dr. Anthony A. Goodman, M.D.
Montana State University

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The Human Body: How We Fail, How We Heal

Course No. 1564
Dr. Anthony A. Goodman, M.D.
Montana State University
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4.6 out of 5
63 Reviews
76% of reviewers would recommend this series
Course No. 1564
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Course Overview

Your body is a fortress under constant assault. Infectious diseases, parasites, environmental toxins, physical trauma, allergens, and natural disasters are some external enemies it faces. From the inside, it is threatened by occasional overzealous allergic, immune, and inflammatory responses, as well as by the cellular mutations that produce cancer.

Fortunately, the body's defenses are remarkably successful, and most of the time we are unaware of the intense drama taking place within our cells and organs.

The intriguing details of this drama make up the field of pathophysiology—the study of the disruptions in a normal body's functions that are caused by disease or injury. Medical students get an exhaustive introduction to this subject early in their training, and the best clinicians are masters of it. Yet few laypeople understand the story of how our bodies fail and the marvelous ways they heal themselves.

The Human Body: How We Fail, How We Heal is designed to fill this information gap. In 24 half-hour lectures, you will explore the many ways the body meets the challenges of disease and injury with remarkable defenses and restorative powers, and how, in some cases, it may either fail or overreact.

A Doctor Who Can Tell You What's Wrong and Why

Your guide is Dr. Anthony A. Goodman, surgeon, professor, novelist, and a superb communicator of medical information. Many Teaching Company customers have already experienced his reassuring bedside manner in his other course, Understanding the Human Body: An Introduction to Anatomy and Physiology. That series covered the normal functioning of the body's organ systems, with glimpses at the more common clinical problems.

Now, Dr. Goodman presents a systematic survey of what can go wrong, why, and how the body itself responds, as well as what doctors can do to intervene. There is no better demonstration of the wondrous intricacy of the body and the everyday miracle of good health.

Hundreds of Medical Examples

In these lectures, Dr. Goodman brings up many subjects you may have wondered about, while also taking you down fascinating paths that will be completely new to you. Among the hundreds of examples he discusses are:

  • Grapefruit and medicine: Cells react to many medications as if they were toxins, which is why the medicines work for a short time before being excreted. Some chemicals in grapefruit interfere with this "toxin-recognition" function in some cells, keeping the medicine in the system longer than usual—a dose that may have been normal could become too much.
  • The eyelid: If you go to an ophthalmologist for a condition such as conjunctivitis, a corneal abrasion, or an infection, the doctor will have you close your eye and then cover the eyelid with a piece of gauze and adhesive tape to keep it closed. The inside of the eyelid is the world's best dressing. It has never been surpassed.
  • Human bite: The flora of the human mouth is extremely toxic anywhere but in the mouth. Therefore, the human bite is one of the most dangerous. The "boxer's fracture"—a broken hand from a blow to the opponent's teeth—must be treated very aggressively if it is contaminated with bacteria from the mouth—even more aggressively than a dog or cat bite.
  • Appendicitis: An initial pain near the site of the appendix is more likely to be a kidney stone than appendicitis, which usually begins as pain around the navel due to the way nerves interpret swelling in the intestines. Dr. Goodman describes the distinctive migration of pain as the appendix becomes obstructed, enlarged, and then infected.
  • Colon cancer: The tumors that cause most colon cancers are unusual because they develop from benign to malignant in a predictable sequence. Early intervention can remove the precancerous growths, called polyps. "We practically wipe out colon cancers in that population willing to be colonoscoped about every five to ten years or so," observes Dr. Goodman.

Become Familiar with Terms Doctors Use

One of the valuable features of this course is the exposure you will have to medical terminology. Dr. Goodman is generous in his use of technical terms and equally generous in the care he takes to explain them. You will learn the difference between signs and symptoms; when a disease is acute versus chronic; how to distinguish endemic, epidemic, and pandemic; and why the malapropism elephantitis means "inflammation of your elephant," when elephantiasis is the correct term (meaning "appearing like an elephant").

Reminding viewers that medical students are exposed to thousands of new words in their first two years, Dr. Goodman emphasizes that physicians have to understand each other as well as the biology of the body, and that is why a precise, familiar vocabulary is so important. "We'll try to keep these terms in play all the time, and I think you'll find them just a part of your vocabulary as we move along," he says reassuringly.

It's just one of the many ways that Dr. Goodman treats you with collegial respect when introducing you to the body's astonishing, yet natural, mechanisms of healing and self-defense when it faces the assaults and accidents of daily life.

What You Will Learn

Cellular level: After an introductory lecture describing the scope of the course, you begin at the cellular level, exploring the function of cells and the several common forms of injury. This lays the foundation for all that follows.

Inflammation and the immune system: The inflammatory response is the body's most primitive and immediate reaction to most forms of attack. The immune response is slower acting but more highly evolved, and it is tailor-made to each threat, for which it develops a distinct memory.

Infectious diseases: Infectious diseases are humankind's most persistent and deadly perils. They have a wide range of causes, including molecular prions, viruses, bacteria, parasites, and worms. These lectures focus on their prevention and treatment.

Shock: When the body perceives a dire threat it begins an automatic, progressive shutdown of systems in an effort to protect the brain and heart. This ultimately life-saving response is called shock, and yet it can quickly lead to death unless corrective measures are taken.

Cancer: Cancer is a self-inflicted wound caused when the genetic machinery of a cell goes awry. Theses lectures explore the environmental causes of cancer, the specific steps in its molecular biology, and strategies for treating its different forms.

Wound healing: The complex and astounding processes of bodily healing and repair are well illustrated by wound healing—in infections, trauma, and surgical intervention. You may be surprised to learn that no wound has to be closed, and that it is often a bad idea to attempt to close a wound that might be contaminated.

Dr. Goodman's goal is to give you the tools to understand diseases and injuries and the body's reaction to them. Such knowledge is no substitute for seeing your physician; however, now you will be better able to communicate with your doctor, know what questions to ask, and have more clarity regarding your own illness or that of a loved one.

Please Note:

These lectures are intended to increase the understanding of the structure and function of the human body. They are in no way designed to be used as medical references for the diagnosis or treatment of medical illnesses or trauma. Neither The Teaching Company nor Dr. Goodman can be responsible for any result derived from the use of this material. Questions of diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions must be brought to the attention of qualified medical personnel.

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24 lectures
 |  30 minutes each
  • 1
    How We Fail
    Pathophysiology is the study of changes in the normal functioning of the body due to disease or injury. Dr. Goodman begins the course with an intriguing look at how, in his general surgical practice, he developed a broad knowledge of this field. x
  • 2
    Cell Biology—Introduction and Definitions
    Cells are the smallest fully functioning units of life and therefore the fundamental level of reaction to an attack and subsequent healing response. This lecture shows how cells can maintain the status quo and how they react to different challenges. x
  • 3
    Inflammation—Basic Principles
    The acute inflammatory response is the body's first reaction to infection or invasion. During this response, chemicals are released that consume invaders, while other processes remove the invaders and initiate healing of the injured site. x
  • 4
    The Inflammatory Response
    Several kinds of blood cells are instrumental to the inflammatory response. Blood platelets initiate clotting; some types of white blood cells eat debris in a process called phagocytosis, while others release chemicals that direct the phagocytes. x
  • 5
    Inflammation—Clinical Manifestations
    This lecture reviews the four classic signs of inflammation: rubor (redness), dolor (pain), calor (heat), and tumor (swelling). The inflammatory response also produces different exudates and transudates, exemplified in burn injuries. x
  • 6
    The Immune Response
    The immune system is the next line of defense after the inflammatory response. Two distinct but related modes of action are the humoral response, induced by invaders in body fluids such as blood; and the cell-meditated response, directed against viruses, parasites, and foreign cells. x
  • 7
    The Immune Response Continued
    The secretory response is another aspect of the immune system, which aims to neutralize invaders before they enter the body. This lecture also examines natural and acquired immunities and vaccine development. x
  • 8
    Hypersensitivity and the Allergic Response
    Hypersensitivity turns a protective re­­sponse into a potentially dangerous one as the body overreacts to a foreign substance. Such reactions are generally called allergies and can be stimulated by foods, medicines, natural toxins, and various chemicals. x
  • 9
    Infectious Diseases—General Introduction
    Infectious diseases account for more death and illness than all other threats combined. Infectious agents include: prions, viruses, chlamydiae, rickettsiae, bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and helminths. x
  • 10
    Two major classes of bacteria are distinguishable by the Gram stain. This lecture examines different gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, including staphylococci, streptococci, and clostridium; and the diseases they cause, such as tuberculosis, gonorrhea, and plague. x
  • 11
    Viruses survive by replicating inside the cells of their hosts. The inflammatory response is ineffective against them, but the immune response can be successful. There are many viral diseases ranging from the common cold, to polio, to Ebola. x
  • 12
    Spirochetes, Rickettsiae, Chlamydiae, Prions
    This lecture looks at syphilis, typhus, chlamydia, and Lyme disease, some of which can be treated successfully with antibiotics. You will also look at some of the newly identified diseases caused by prions, such as mad cow disease, which have no known cures or treatments. x
  • 13
    Many tropical diseases involve parasitic organisms that have complex life cycles. Often these organisms do not kill but rather sap the vitality of their hosts, keeping them barely alive. Malaria is one of the most widespread and devastating of these diseases. x
  • 14
    Schistosomiasis, Filariasis, Tapeworms
    This lecture covers a series of parasitic diseases that have been largely eradicated in the developed world, but that still affect millions in poor nations. Among them is a form of filariasis, called Loa loa, that Dr. Goodman, as a student, encountered in a dramatic case. x
  • 15
    Infectious Diseases—Treatment
    Sulfa drugs opened the antibiotic era in the early 20th century. Penicillin followed along with a host of antibiotics with specialized uses. Today, many bacteria have evolved drug resistance, turning back the clock to the preantibiotic era. x
  • 16
    Infectious Diseases—Triumph and Failure
    This lecture looks at some of the great success stories in conquering infectious diseases: Edward Jenner and smallpox, John Snow and cholera, and Louis Pasteur and rabies. All were working in the period before the organisms responsible for these diseases were known. x
  • 17
    Shock—Principles and Hypovolemic Shock
    Shock is the inability of the heart to provide adequate perfusion to the body's organs. Shock may lead to multiple organ failure, and if untreated, death. Forms of shock share the failure of the heart and vessels to keep up adequate blood flow to the organs to sustain life. Hypovolemic shock usually starts from severe blood loss x
  • 18
    Categories of Shock
    Other forms of shock include cardiogenic shock, the failure of the heart to function effectively; anaphylactic shock, stimulated by a severe allergic reaction; septic shock in response to infection; and neurogenic shock, resulting from damage to the nervous system. x
  • 19
    Cancer—The Enemy Within
    Stem cells are found throughout the body and can differentiate into specialized cells to replace normal cell attrition or to repair damaged tissues. Cancer, says Dr. Goodman, is the failure of stem cells to differentiate, and results from mutations lead to uncontrolled cell division. x
  • 20
    Environmental Carcinogens
    Carcinogens are chemical, physical, and biological agents that cause cellular changes that may result in cancer. Tobacco, as a chemical, is the world's number one carcinogen. Physical and biological carcinogens include radiation and certain viruses. x
  • 21
    Mechanisms of Carcinogenesis
    By damaging the DNA, carcinogens interfere with the passage of information from the parent cell to the daughter cell. This lecture investigates the various pathways at the molecular level that can lead to cancer. x
  • 22
    Invasion, Metastasis, and Angiogenesis
    This lecture reveals how cancer spreads in the body. The turning point is the establishment of distant metastases. This generally defines incurable disease and unleashes its lethal potential. However, antiangiogenesis therapy shows promise for curing some metastatic cancers. x
  • 23
    Treatment—Surgery, Radiation, Chemotherapy
    For well-defined cancer tumors of known location, surgery does well at removing bulk, while radiation kills malignant cells around the margins. Chemotherapy is ideal for finding residual microscopic tumors where the exact location is not known. x
  • 24
    How We Heal
    The final lecture looks at the complex process of wound healing, focusing on the surgical wound or the traumatic wound as the prototype. Dr. Goodman discusses a range of factors that influence wound healing, illustrated by some of his own cases. x

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Your professor

Anthony A. Goodman

About Your Professor

Anthony A. Goodman, M.D.
Montana State University
Dr. Anthony A. Goodman is Adjunct Professor of Medicine at Montana State University and Affiliate Professor in the Department of Biological Structure at the University of Washington School of Medicine. He earned his B.A. from Harvard College and his M.D. from Cornell Medical College and trained as a surgical intern and resident at the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor. He completed his surgical training and...
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The Human Body: How We Fail, How We Heal is rated 4.5 out of 5 by 63.
Rated 4 out of 5 by from High school biology extension...success! We used this product as a supplement to a biology course for 7th through 9th graders. Overall we would rate it a success! Though some of the information was "advanced" especially for the 7th grader, and though we did skip a couple of the more "mature" topics, the students appreciated the visual aids very much. Dr. Goodman was a good instructor.
Date published: 2018-03-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating, well taght - but still disappointing I have heard Professor Goodman’s other course on anatomy and physiology, “Understanding the human body”, which was dedicated to understanding the functionality of the different systems of the human body in its normal state. It was one of the courses I had enjoyed most in TGC: it offered me an in depth and serious glimpse of this field – of which I had only the vaguest idea, and the presentation was exceptionally clear, focused and sharp. That course did not focus so much on how and why the body fails, and what are its mechanisms to overcome such failures, though pathology was mentioned as the some of the systems were introduced. This course focuses on the complementary aspects: what are the agents and mechanisms that can cause sickness and injury to the body, and what mechanisms are used to overcome them. Many fascinating topics are discussed, but the discussions I found most fascinating were the ones concerning the non- specific inflammatory response, and the discussion about cancer. I did not feel that the material was covered in anything close to the same level of comprehensiveness as in the first course. I was excited to learn more about the immune system – of which I got quite an in-depth description in the wonderful course “biology the science of life” – but the description in this course turned out to be much more superficial and less satisfying than in the former. The discussion of cancer, also, though quite new to me and full of interesting new insight, left a lot of questions unanswered. Particularly, I found the fascinating teaser that Professor Goodman used – that a cancer is like a micro evolutionary system in which the runaway cancer cells prosper due to their “unfair” advantages with regards to natural selection – very intriguing. There was not nearly enough discussion regarding this point to satisfy me though. So overall how was it? Professor Goodman is a great teacher – clear, enthusiastic, entertaining (but not overly focused on this aspect), and in great command of the material. I do feel, however, that he was more focused and structured in “Understanding the human body”. The same applies to the level of coverage of the material. Having said this – the course did provide to me a lot of new knowledge of which I had only a tiny inkling – which is exactly the point of listening to these courses in the first place. So, although I feel that this course does not match the near perfect expectations I had for it based on “Understanding the human body”, it was still a great course: fascinating, well taught and worthwhile.
Date published: 2018-01-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very interesting. A very useful reference for understanding how the body reacts to foreign substances and diseases.
Date published: 2018-01-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from explains how and why the body fails us very well! I bought this previously and bought a second copy for some high school kids in my family who claim they want to be doctors. I use it to convince some elderly relatives as to why preventive care is needed. Seeing the visual is so much better than just telling someone.
Date published: 2018-01-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Great Course Indeed I purchased this course because I have purchased the other course (Human anatomy and Physiology) from the same instructor and was very impressed how such difficult subject could be lectured in such a profound yet insipring way of teaching. Every chapter lectured by Dr. Goodman was like a 3-D story telling, everything became so clearly and alive to me. I felt my thalamic gate suddenly open up and those blockages seemed to be removed and connect pieces of knowledge better than ever. The instructor made the hard subject incredibly much easier to understand and retain. I even joked and told my spouse that if I had seen these lecture videos when I were young, I would want to be a general surgeon today. We both enjoyed Dr. Goodman's lectures very much. Each time I reviewed his lecture, there was always new surprise for me to digest and think. The thoroughness and integrity of the course were expressed in a very graceful professional manner from the instructor. The quality of the course was only made possible by a highly dedicated and skillful physician with extended years of clinical and teaching experiences. I think his courses are all very inspiring, exciting and great collections for everyone. Look forward to seeing more Dr. Goodman's lectures.
Date published: 2017-12-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very detailed information Very detailed look at how the individual cells of the body respond to drama or invasion. Specific illnesses and conditions are used mostly as examples of the cellular mechanism, but the course is not designed to actually study particular illnesses. I did find most of the lectures pretty interesting, but I can understand why many people would think this is pretty dry. The course outlines lacks the charts shown on screen in the DVD and also (strangely) there is no vocabulary list, which would have been REALLY HELPFUL!
Date published: 2016-05-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very scientific for a better living course As some other reviews have stated before, the course could have been called “An Intro to Pathophysiology”. Furthermore, I think it could also have been placed into the Science section of the Great Courses, rather than into Better Living. Both, the actual title and the section chosen, make it much more appealing. However, if you are in the situation like myself, and have no medical background and are not seeking deep knowledge of the topic but rather a basic understanding of it, you might just struggle sometimes with the lectures like I did. The course is very logically structured and very complex topics are divided into several lectures. Dr. Goodman is very knowledgable and tries to explain every one of the dozens of technical terms that are used in simple words. The presentation is supported by many slides, which he also explains further, and even though some topics cover grisly diseases, one does for the most part not have to look at shocking photos to get an understanding. Dr. Goodman presents fluently in a pleasant voice and the occasional slips of tongue are immediately corrected. He could have loosened his tie before some lectures, as that seemed to give him occasional difficulties in speaking. So from my point of view as a layperson, I think that this is a good course and I have now a much better understanding of the basic principles of the topics, hence the overall 4 star rating. However, as I mentioned in the first paragraph, I did struggle at times to stay interested. Several chapters, especially the first few, are for someone without medical background very dry, and it took me several months to get past those “bumps” to finally watch the whole course. For a Better Living course, and I have done quite a few, I found the material too scientific with too many technical terms, and I think that it could have been even more simplified to make it more interesting, even though Dr. Goodman makes it clear that the topics are already very condensed. I understand that it is often difficult for the Great Courses to find a balance between making material interesting for a layman without making it too boring for someone who already has some background knowledge. That is why I think that by putting this lecture into the Science category, it would have been clearer for the learner what to expect. Hence my recommendation of this course to a friend would be somehow restricted.
Date published: 2016-02-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Presenter Dr. Anthony Goodman has my vote for a great lecturer.
Date published: 2015-12-31
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