Clown Doctors in NYC

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.

This Post Has 1 Comment

  1. Moe Aqel says:

    I feel like this article was pretty interesting in the way that the medical appearance of the western culture is compared to the rest of the world. In the United States we have the tools of changing ones personality whether it is from medication and certain stimulant effects of drugs to the clowns that some hospitals in New York are choosing to use. This is amazing because we have the ability where other parts of the world are unfortunate to do so. These people can help calm the patients in some situations to ease a process for doctors or nurses. I do not feel like this is an issue but also not too credible because of some situations where a patient might take this more of a negative turn than any other way. But I do feel like this is a legitimate way of helping patients and their care givers, doctors and nurses to help the overall procedure. These healers are nothing more than just helping a situation and “healing” the mood of the situation for the patient and as well as the doctor. They relieve stress and help contain a procedure and situation, this in the end helps treat the actual experience both the patient and doctor are going through making it easier and in turn actually helps the patient over come stress quicker which can help how they cope to the issue and in turn the body heals quicker with less to no stress.

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