The article on clown doctors described an organization called the Big Apple Circus Clown Care Unit which consists of professional clowns that come into the children’s wards of hospitals in New York City to help cheer up and distract children from the pain and discomfort of treatments. In each hospital there is a team of three clowns that do a variety of activities with children to make them feel better about being in the hospital. Many clowns will perform acting routines, tell jokes, do puppetry, as well as a variety of other clownish behaviors to help children to feel good about themselves and to lift their spirits. Doctors and nurses in the hospitals where the clowns volunteer report that the clowns help the children’s and their parents’ morale and that distracting the children with jokes and gags while they get treatments make it easier for the doctors and nurses to do their jobs as well.
The healers in this situation are clowns and their social status is one below doctors and nurses, but it is just as important. The techniques they use vary, but may include pulling objects from behind patients’ ears, acting, telling jokes, puppetry, and other typical clown activities. They interact with their patients by using a cheerful demeanor and their focus is to take the patients’ and their parents’ minds off of the treatments they’re receiving which are sometimes extremely uncomfortable and painful. For patients in sterile environments, the clowns interact with patients by doing funny activities outside the window, as to not disturb the sterility of the environment.
The clown doctors operate in the folk sector, being between the popular and professional sectors and also not being a biological form of healing. They also operate in western culture, being from NYC, and healthcare is delivered both holistically and biologically in this system and the body and mind are generally treated separately in this system.