W3 Reflection: Clown Doctors in NYC

The article I am summarizing and discussing this week is the Clown Doctors: Shaman Healers of Western Medicine article which I found very informative and interesting. Basically this article just talks about healers in the Pediatric Unit of a New York hospital who work to help children and their families in a sort of non-conventional way. The Clown Care Unit is just the healers who work there who dress up as clowns and do funny, happy, and silly things in order to make the patients’ stay at the hospital a more pleasant one. The clowns really help the children and their parents feel more at ease and de-stress by having a few laughs! One thing I found really interesting in this article was the association between the clowns that work at the hospital and traditional healers of non-western societies. I never would have imagined linking these two tings or seeing a similarity between them until I read this article. It is clear to me now that the makeup and clothes the clowns wear are obviously not socially acceptable for someone who is not that profession but really reflects how the regular person in the western culture is basically transforming into a healer of non-western culture. The clown is now a healer with the face makeup and masks of ritual non-western healers and now the similarity seems very clear!

The clowns do not really heal and treat the body and symptoms like normal western healers, or doctors. Instead it is more of a psychological healing, which in turn benefits the body, as does the medical treatment the doctors are administering as well of course. The clowns administer the care by basically making the children and their families happy. By saying jokes, doing silly things, doing magic tricks and more, the clowns are helping to relieve the patients of stress and take their attention away from their illness and put it towards the fun! This really helps the children and it is safe to say that making the children happy will definitely make their parents happy as well, so this really benefits the whole family and helps to heal everyone in the room!

2 thoughts on “W3 Reflection: Clown Doctors in NYC

  1. Hi, Meri!
    I like the words you used to describe the clown doctors of NYC and how you felt regarding the comparison of western to eastern culture in terms of healing. I also find it interesting that clown doctors could be compared to shaman healers, such as those from Laos. It really opened my eyes to the fact that psychological healing is a critical component of the overall healing process.
    For psychological healing techniques that originate in the west, however, this type of healing seems to be directed mainly towards sick children. It is important to keep children’s spirits up during dark times like hospitalization because they are very new to experiencing things fear and worry.
    I also think it’s a good thing to have entertainers, like clowns, in hospitals with children who are ill. It is important to maintain a sense of fun amongst all the prying needles, vitals machines, and urinalyses.
    I would say clown doctors could be considered effective healers in a certain sense because they keep patients from lacking motivation, happiness, what have you. They may not be especially trained in how to fix physiological problems, but they certainly seem to have a positive effect on many patients.
    Places like hospitals aren’t just for doctors and nurses anymore. We are now incorporating all sorts of entertainers into that sort of setting to provide a more cheery atmosphere to young and old patients alike.

  2. Hello Meri!,

    I chose your post because I chose to write about California hospitals incorporating Shaman’s in the hospital to accompany the cultural differences among Hmong people. I like the connection that was made about the clown doctors in NYC and the Shaman. They essentially are there to serve the same purpose: to make a doctors visit or hospital stay more comfortable. The clown doctors are there to target a specific culture, which in this case would be the youth population. As Shamans cater to the needs of those who follow that cultural ideal, the clowns are there to cater to children who find the clowns amusing and make their hearts happy. I think the concept of having entertainment in the hospitals, such as clowns, is something that Western hospitals have been trying to do for a long time, especially in the children departments. Usually in hospitals you will find bright colors, play rooms, activity stations, etc in areas that are meant for children. In biomedical medicine, or westernized hospitals you may also find musicians or animal handlers making visits to the hospitals to make children, elderly, and other people’s stays more enjoyable. I feel like these sources are indeed legitimate and effective because the power of healing extends beyond what the physician or medicine can do. That is something we seen in the Shamans, which are not necessarily physicians, but they are healers in the eyes of those that believe in them. They are able to heal in ways different than doctors, connect with patients, and assist in the healing being done by the doctor. I do not believe that the Shamans or clowns would necessarily replace the doctor, but they had quality to the healthcare and healing process. I think it is important to find ways to reach out to different groups of people because one thing may not be for everyone. I think it was a good idea to introduce the clowns into the hospital healing process.

Leave a Reply