The Clown Doctors article describes the role of the Clown Care Unit (CCU), a group of professional clowns working in New York City Hospitals in their attempt to complement, or rather enhance the efficacy of biomedical treatment through entertainment and laughter. The article identifies the ways in which Western medical systems may be limited in that they place nearly all attention on the “biophysical dimension” to treat, and do not consider the “human dimension” which is most important for indigenous healers and one of the focuses of the CCU. The author compares the craft of shamanism with that of clowns from the costumes used to their departure from the ordinary in rituals/performances. The two are more similar than we may think upon first glance, and both accomplish similar goals of healing holistically and improving mental health.
The CCU clowns are the ‘healers’ but don’t claim to improve anything but possibly mental health and the morale of hospital staff. They might not be doctors, but they seem to be well respected by the majority of the hospital staff, children, and adults. Upon entering a room, the group of clowns entertain a patient through mime and physical comedy and are even dressed playfully as doctors with the goal of preventing potential fear of doctors by children. They even interact with the hospital staff, all in the effort of enhancing psychological health of those around them.
All this takes place in the Western medical system where biomedicine reigns supreme and is the most respected and accepted form of treatment. As I stated before, the focus is on the “biophysical dimension” to treat symptoms. The body and symptoms experienced are purely biologically related and treated as such. The clowns fill the void where biomedicine falls short in the human dimension that centers on the patient’s illness experience.