Clown Doctors in NYC

The article “Clown Doctors: Shaman Healers of Western Medicine” was about the Big Apple Circus Clown Care Unit (CCU). This group worked in the pediatric wards in the NYC hospitals. These clown doctors can be compared to the shamans seen in non-Western medicine, because of their healing process. In this article the clown doctors  job are to go to patients rooms and entertain them in order to relieve the anxiety and pain that the patients are feeling. The main goal of the clown doctors is provide a child friendly hospital environment.

The healers in this article are the clown doctors, although they don’t actually cure the patients they are here to help heal patients emotionally.  I don’t think that these clowns have a particular social status. These clowns can come from any background, so the social status isn’t important, because the clown outfits are temporary identities. The techniques that the clown doctors use are and medical symbolism, magic tricks, parodies, and puppets. The clown doctors use these techniques interact with their patients in order to give  their patients  a friendly and comforting environment. These clowns doctors interact with children patients and their families in order to help reduce and relieve any tension a patient gets from being in the hospital.

The system/sector(s) and the culture the clown doctors operate in is in folk sector and social healing which is their form of healing.  The way that this healthcare is  delivered in this system is through the form of western bio-medicine with the doctors and nurses working as a team along with the clowns. The role of the clown doctors is to provide folk sector as a way of healing and the doctors providing treatment through use of technology. The body and symptoms are understood and treated through a folk sector by the clown doctors. The CCU clowns use and understand the body and symptoms in a psychological way and attempt to provide comfort; social healing. For bio-medine the body and symptoms are understood and treated in order to prevent and treat diseases that cause illness and possibly death that are based on the symptoms that the patients experience.


This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Pamela Perez says:

    Being from New York myself, I’ve always thought of this Clown Doctor system to be both incredulous, but needed at the same time. There exists in amazing large gap between them and biomedical doctors as thy do not compare at all-at least in the biological healing/curing process. Nevertheless, if our lessons have taught me anything, it’s that the individual emotional and mental status are key to recovery a lot of the times. This form of ‘healing’ may not be incredibly effective, but they do influence a child’s recovery-at least from what I’ve seen. I like how you stated that they aim to “use and understand the body and symptoms in a psychological way…” I definitely agree with this viewpoint. Though they may not be able to prescribe pills and schedule x-rays and exams, they are at a different rung of the healthcare system-the “care” aspect of it. Not only this, but its an important part of New York’s crazy culture. The fact that across the world, these types of health-based entertainments may not exist or are unimportant is proof that to others it may not seem a legitimate way to treat patients. According to The American Cancer Society, chemotherapy is a major contributor to mood changes within cancer patients. It can negatively affect a person’s mood and reciprocally can affect their recovery as well. Therefore, for kids in the Cancer Department of the hospitals, emotional elevation is, in my opinion, a necessity. (Though the practice has become a little old-fashioned nowadays.)

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