The article I read was about Dr. Winona Do-More from New York City. She is not a true medical doctor but in charge of the Big Apple Circus Clown Care Unit. This group is made up of circus-trained clowns who help to “treat” and cheer up children in various New York hospitals. They dress up in a white doctors lab coat, bright red clown noses, and different medical tubing that many of the kids have to deal with. The article says, “Satisfied that all is ready, she leaves the changing room for another day of funny-bone removals, queakectomies, and bed-pandemonium” the clowns start to entertain the children in the pediatric units (Blerkom). Some of the people that they entertain besides the patients are families waiting to hear the results of their children’s emergency room visit. They are very useful in distracting patients who are able to undergo a painful procedure or situation. These clowns also benefit the hospital workers by increase mood and morale.
The clowns role in medicine is being compared to the shamans we have learned about in non-traditional medicine. The article states, “In many ways, CCU clowns resemble shamans and traditional healers of non-Western societies. The inclusion of clowns in pediatric hospitals reflects growing interest in and respect for alternative, or more correctly complementary styles of healing” (Blerkom). These clowns are concerned with the patients’ well being, mood, and an increased enjoyable experience of treatment. This focus is shifting away from western medicines belief in treating the physical symptoms of a patient’s illness. The best quote comparing these clowns to shamans is when they say, “Both clowns and shamans mediate between order and chaos, sacred and profane, real and supernatural, culture and anti-culture, or nature”(Charles 1945:32-33; Willeford1 969:100-150).
Physicians that do more than just treat symptoms are following more of an integrational model. In order to treat the well being of their patients, doctors need to consider psychological and social health. These clowns are a great example of doctors reaching beyond these comfort zone and applying techniques used by other cultures of improve the health of patients. The direct exposure patients receive from the clowns in New York City is very beneficial because they can help children in difficult times. I thought this article was great and reminded me of the movie Patch Adams with Robin Williams.
Clown Doctors: Shaman Healers of Western MedicineAuthor(s): Linda Miller Van BlerkomReviewed work(s):Source: Medical Anthropology Quarterly, New Series, Vol. 9, No. 4 (Dec., 1995), pp. 462-475Published by: Blackwell Publishing on behalf of the American Anthropological AssociationStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/648831 .