The Structure Of The Book

In chapter one I begin the story of the experiences of these informants by addressing the questions of how we should conceptualize alternative health care and just who we should consider a user of alternative therapies. In it I argue for a subjectivist understanding of alternative approaches to health and healing, as well as against the notion that the individual who participates in alternative forms of healing is a particular type of person. Using demographic information collected from the...

The Study

A symbolic interactionist understanding of the individual and society informs the analysis I present in this book. This perspective is particularly appropriate to the questions I address, as my intent is a subjectivist understanding of the experiences of lay people who use alternative health care. Symbolic interactionism was useful in this research, since what distinguishes it from structuralist approaches is its focus on the micro level of society, its concern with the subjective experiences...

Christian Science Medicine

Christian Science Medicine is a spiritual healing system that rejects allopathic medicine. According to Mary Baker Eddy (1934 109-123), founder of the Christian Science religion The term Christian Science designate s the scientific system of divine healing and reveals incontro-vertibly that mind is All-in-all, that the only realities are the divine Mind and idea. The Christian Science approach to healing can be summed up in the principles God is All-in-all God is good God is Mind God, Spirit,...

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The interviews ranged anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half in length. I also conducted follow-up interviews whenever necessary. All the interviews were tape recorded and fully transcribed.5 Informants were asked to choose the location of the interview and the majority of them opted to speak with me in their homes. Informant preference to be interviewed in the home proved advantageous in addition to allowing them to be more candid than in other locations, in the privacy of their homes...

The Focus And Purpose Of Therapy

The people who took part in this research used a series of alternative versus allopathic statements in explaining what they see as distinctive about the focus and purpose of alternative therapy. Some informants highlighted the general approach to health problems, for example holism while others focussed on specific techniques they associated with alternative healing, such as natural remedies. What is common in all cases, however, is that they distinguish alternative therapy by differentiating...

Chinese Herbal Medicine

There are four main categories of Chinese medicine Chinese herbalism, Chinese food cures, Chinese acupuncture, and Chinese manipulative therapies (Lu 1991). They all rest on the assumption that all things in the animate and inanimate world are dynamic interactions (Porkert and Ullmann 1988 73). In terms of health, Chinese medicine sees the individual as a constellation of energy rather than a physical body which is inhabited by a soul or spirit (Porkert and Ullmann 1988 84). Disease is...

Acupuncture

Acupuncture has been used as a traditional method of healing in China for the last five thousand years. The intent is to bring about a balance between positive and negative (yin-yang) energy which travels throughout the body by means of pathways called meridians (Crockett 1996). It involves the insertion of thin needles into the body at precise points along these meridians these needles are sometimes jiggled to increase the healing effect (Crockett 1996). While some techniques of Western...

An Alternative Model of Healing

While I have shown that there are very real problems in conceptualizing alternative healing residually by distinguishing it from biomedical treatment, residual means of definition proved very popular among the people who participated in this research.1 When I asked Richard how he would define alternative healing, he said, Alternative healing is anything that would not be considered the traditional Western approach to it. And Lindsay told me alternative therapy is Stuff that's out of the realm...

Is There An Alternative Therapy Type

Fifteen women and six men took part in this study. In general this distribution reflects the higher female rates of participation in alternative health care reported in Canada (Achilles et al. 1999), the US (Eisenberg et al. 1998) and the UK (Fulder 1996). As Sharma (1990 128) concludes There is consistent evidence that higher proportions of alternative medicine patients are female.4 For instance, 21 percent of Canadian women, in contrast to 17 percent of Canadian men, used alternative health...

What Are Alternative Therapies

Anyinam (1990 69) pointedly illustrates the ambiguity inherent in conceptualizations of alternative health care when he writes 'Alternative medicine' has been variously termed 'complementary medicine,' 'traditional medicine,' 'holistic medicine,' 'unorthodox medicine,' 'fringe marginal medicine,' 'folk medicine,' and 'ethnomedicine.' In addition to these concepts, Health Canada (2001) and Casey and Picherack (2001) have abbreviated alternative and complementary health care as CAHC. The acronym...

The Implications Of Alternative Health Beliefs

For the people who participated in this research, health and healing are an ongoing, concomitant process. Their alternative model of health is made up of three fundamental conceptual categories holism, balance, and control. To be healthy under this model means that one experiences and exhibits unity of, as well as balance between, mind, body, and spirit. The category of balance also includes the notions of unity with, and balance between, the self and others, the self and nature, and or the...

Healing The Self

McGuire (1987 376) contends that the very rhetorics of healing in modern Western societies emphasize individual choice and transformation. In particular, alternative approaches to healing have been observed to have this type of self-transformative potential (Glik 1988,1990 McGuire 1983 Pawluch et al. 1994 Stambolovic 1996 Ullman 1979). For instance, Easthope (1993 294) asserts that The healer's task is to reconstruct individuals in a mode that provides them with the ability to manage their...

References

Concepts in alternative medicine. Social Science and Medicine, 22(2) 265-273. Achilles, R. (2001). Defining complementary and alternative health care. In Health Canada, Perspectives on complementary and alternative health care, pp. I.11-15. Achilles, R., Adelson, N., Antze, P., and Biggs, C. L. (1999). Complementary and alternative health practices and therapies A Canadian overview. Toronto York University Centre for Health Studies. Achterberg, J. (1985). Imagery in...

Managing The Stigma Of Using Alternative Therapies

The people who spoke with me live with discreditable identities which they must manage (Goffman 1963). According to Goffman (1963), the difference between discredited and discreditable identities is that the latter depends on the degree to which individuals can reduce stigma by controlling disclosure of their deviant identity. Likewise, the literature shows that people who use alternative therapies make efforts to conceal their use from others, especially doctors (Montbriand and Laing 1991...

Reconceptualizing The Health Care System

Where conceptualizing alternative therapy within the larger health care system is concerned, the most influential classification in the social sciences has been Chrisman and Kleinman's (1983) model of the local health care system (Sharma 1993 16). Their model is made up of three overlapping spheres representing different sectors of the health care system the popular sector, the professional sector, and the folk sector. The popular sector is composed of health care actions taken by sick persons,...

Dissatisfaction

Many authors argue that people turn to alternative therapies because they have recognized the limitations of Western medicine and or are, in general, dissatisfied with allopathic approaches to health care (Fulder 1996)7- Similarly, almost all of the people who participated in this study associated disillusionment with biomedicine with their first experiences of alternative therapies. In Hanna's words I found traditional allopathic therapy wasn't helping me at all. The dissatisfaction with...