Clown Doctors in NYC

The article I have chosen to reflect on is “Clown Doctors: Shaman Healers of Western Medicine.” The article discusses a group of professional clowns, the Clown Care Unit (CCU) who work in the pediatric regions of New York City hospitals. They dress up as clowns to cheer up the sick children and their family members, as well as the staff of the hospital. They do this in the hopes of speeding up patients’ recoveries and to promote positivity and optimism throughout the hospital. Clown activities first originated from the shaman rituals, believing that a good attitude and comic relief will speed up recovery.

The article also discusses the differences between western and non-western medicine. While the clown doctors operate in normal westernized hospitals, the way they practice medicine is not the usual scientific approach of doctors. Instead of focusing purely on the physical component of the patients’ health, they direct their practice toward the mental and emotional constituent, and when that improves, it often leads to an improvement in their physical health as well.

I would consider the Clown Care Unit to be a part of both the professional and folk sector. They use a holistic approach to health, very similar to shamans. While they may not have the education and knowledge of a medical doctor, they are still respected and well liked within the hospitals. They uplift the spirit not only of the patients, but the doctors and nurses as well. Some might say their career and line of work is not legitimate, but if they saw the smiles and laughter the clowns bring to the city hospitals, these critics may change their minds. Their work may be far from traditional, but I personally feel that a positive attitude is one of the most important, yet hardest, things to hold on to while suffering an illness. Therefore, I think the clown doctors have a significant role in healing and bettering the minds of the patients.

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