This article is about “Clown Doctors” in the New York City hospitals. Clown doctors are primarily people who dress up as clowns to entertain sick children in the hospital or distract children to make them more at ease in a difficult or painful procedure in the hospital. They also entertain the parents and other people in waiting rooms to ease their mind of any anxiety while waiting on the patient to be treated and/or come out of surgery. These clown doctors identify with the non-western healers; Shamans especially.
They believe in cultural and natural remedies in helping both the family and patient during the time of illness. They incorporate culture into the performances that they do for children. They identify with temporary styles of healing unlike the western culture. Western culture practices treating patients with an allopathic approach. Whereas, non-western cultures seek a patient’s social condition of the illness.
In this article, the methods of the clowns were observed and the audiences reactions were also observed to compare this method to western cultures of medical treatment and to also see if this method is effective.
The clowns work in groups of two or three with one clown being designated as the supervisor for that day. The clowns encounter several people while passing through the halls and they entertain patients or visitors of the hospital by exchanging different gags. After doctors talk to the patients about their symptoms or a procedure that is about to take place, doctors tell the patients that they have a specialist that will see them. At this time, doctors leave the room and the clowns enter to entertain the patient and the parent. They perform magic tricks, blow bubbles, and sometimes draw things with great humor to ease the patients.
This method of treatment is not said to cure anything. As a matter of fact, they do not try to cure anything at all. The goal is to try to create a more child-friendly environment for the children in the hospital. The body and symptoms of patients are not directly dealt with this non-western method. However, this method is said to ease patient anxiety and result in more positive clinical outcomes.