Clown Doctors in NYC

The article Clown Doctors: Shaman Healers of Western Medicine emphasizes the role of clown doctors in a few New York Hospitals. Showing the reader a glimpse of the daily routine that a clown doctors undergoes as part of the clown care unit (CCU). Throughout the article we see that they hold a strong correlation to non-western related shamans and although many might see that as a negative it’s the opposite. Their presence allows for the patient to be healed, not biologically (for that is the role of the physician) but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually healed. Which has been a predominant role of shamans in non-western medicine and cultures for ages. The article “A Doctor for a disease, a shaman for the Soul” highlighted the same point in that Shamans are starting to have a role in western medicine, in where doctors are sent for healing a patient biological disease. A shaman is sent to aid the patient in their illness whether it is mentally or emotionally. Showing the reader the importance of integrating a more in depth and cultural style of healing that will benefit the patients.


The first article the healers are the clowns (Dr. Do-more, Dr. Bobo, etc.), they are seen and respected as the same caliber of healers as physicians to an extent. They are able to interact with anyone in the hospital whether it is patients, parents, doctors, nurses, etc. They use an array of magic tricks, props, bubbles, and gestures to cause laughter in the people of the hospital. They usually dress up with funny costumes and makeup then go to their patients (who are predetermined before they enter a ward by talking to the nurses). They go based off of the emotions of the patient “A little girl in the waiting room is frightened of clowns and hides behind her mother. The clown’s act terrified of her and attempt to hide behind each other, the chairs, and even another mother. Soon the little girl is giggling and chasing them”.


The clown doctors operate in a modern industrialized society. They aid the (western style) physicians in healing the patients through humor by treating the psyche and not necessarily the disease. Although traditionally most people from this culture believe in only the allopathic route of healing, its being shown how integral this new way of healing is benefiting the patients. Healthcare is delivered by means of seeing where patients are most susceptible to feeling negative and where this style has the most impact (children with severe diseases or illnesses). They see the biological disease and find it correlating to the patient’s mental well being, “The intensive burn unit is a serious place. Here each clown puts on a fresh sterile gown and cap before entering each room, and these patients can’t touch any of the toys and props. This is also the unit the clowns find most difficult emotion- ally. The injuries they see here are often serious and disfiguring”.

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