Clown Doctors in NYC

In order to entertain children in New York City hospitals, there is the Big Apple Circus Clown Care Unit. They are being compared to the Non-Western healers, like the Shamans. The Clown Care Unit was created in 1986 by Michael Christensen and went from two clowns to a total of 35 clowns in hospitals. The clowns’ jobs are numerous. They go from entertaining bored families in very crowded waiting rooms, distracting anxious families, comforting parents whose child is in an intensive care unit, and also to distract cancer patients awaiting painful therapy or other procedures. This Clown Care Unit resembles an alternative style of healing. Normally, healing has to do with the doctor and patient, but these clowns offer a different style by easing the emotional stress that some of the patients feel before a procedure takes place. The clown will direct the prank or joke on the doctor, giving the child ease, since the doctor is the one operating on the child. In the article, the clowns were compared to the Shamans. They both perform tricks with toys, magic tricks, and other forms of entertainment. They also focus on treating the human perception of the disease, and not the disease itself.


In this article, the healers are the clowns. Even though they are not directly healing the patient, they offer an emotional comfort to patients, making their condition easier to cope with. I don’t believe that the clowns have any social status, they could be anyone, but their goal remains the same, to ease the emotional stress of a patient.


The specific sectors that the clowns operate in are the professional sector and the folk sector. The professional sector is one that uses technologically advanced equipment with highly trained doctors to directly heal the patients. On the other hand, there is the folk sector, which uses clowns to provide a different perspective to the current treatment by relieving the patients’ emotional pain.

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