W3 Reflection: Clown Doctors

The article that I am reflecting on is the article titled, Clown Doctors: Shaman Healers of Western Medicine. In this piece, the healers that are presented are clowns that are playing the role of doctors in hospitals throughout New York. In America in general clowns are not considered to be of a prestigious status but in the case of the clowns working in the hospitals they are regarded as a critical part of the healing process of children. Not only by the patients that can attest but by the doctors, nurses, and staff in general. They use techniques that have been around in the form of shamanistic healers for a long time such as buffoonery, sleight of hand, and puppetry. These clowns interact with the patients in a way that puts the child in control. By assuming the role of someone not as witty as the children they are intending to make happy, they make the patient feel as if they are powerful and having fun at the same time. Other techniques that I feel are important in the process if the art of distraction.

The clowns are operating within a very strict western medicine system, at the same time bringing a complimentary method of reaching patients that makes the whole idea of a western medicine staple, the hospital, seem a little more humane. In the western medicine system healthcare is dealt with by looking at the body as a machine and fixing biological symptoms and problems with prescription medication. These clowns bring what would be considered an alternative but better described as a complimentary method of healing to a system of healing that is focused on biomedicine.

I really enjoyed reading this article and it brought me back to the many times I have spent in he hospital throughout my life. An example of me actually experiencing a complimentary form of healing along with western medicine would be when I was just about to receive my first kidney transplant. A musician came into my pre-op room right before surgery where nerves were running high between my family and I. This guy played music on the guitar and almost immediately the mood amongst us changed. We went from being nervous about this life changing procedure moments away to being at ease with where we were and knew this was the best thing. It is hard to describe the feeling however, reading the article about the clown doctors brought back memories.


One thought on “W3 Reflection: Clown Doctors

  1. Hey Robert,
    I just finished reading your post, and I found it both touching and very valid to the topic. While our culture loves to focus on scientific proof and the importance of being able to see results of a treatment without a shadow of a doubt. However, time and time again we see that there is much more to health than a simple physical fix. In many cases, a person’s mental stability and positivity are paramount to the success of the physical fix, and ultimately has as much or more importance in healthcare than the physical aspect.
    Although these ‘doctors’ do not do any formal studying of their aspect of health, they do have just as valid of an effect on their patients as do biomedical doctors. It is becoming common knowledge a person’s brain is stronger than any condition. So when a healthy mentality (brought on by clowns or music) is paired with an effective physical treatment, there is no telling how far a person can go.
    Thanks for your post,

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