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Alternative Health Care

Alternative Health Care

Michael S. Goldstein
Copyright Date: 1999
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 280
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  • Book Info
    Alternative Health Care
    Book Description:

    In November of 1998The Journal of the American Medical Associationdevoted an entire issue to alternative medicine for the first time in its publishing history. According to survey results reported in the journal, 83 million Americans used some form of alternative medicine to preserve and maintain their health in 1997, a sharp increase from the 61 million who turned to alternative forms of care in 1990.Michael S. Goldstein'sAlternative Health Careis the first comprehensive account of the growing presence of alternative medicine in American society. Beginning with the basic premises of alternative medicine, Goldstein's book examines the clinical, economic, and political realities of the broad range of alternative care options and practices in the United States and explains why alternative medicine has become a viable choice for so many people who are ill or who seek to remain healthy.Bringing history, policy, practice, personal experience, and in-depth sociological analysis together into one comprehensive volume, Goldstein -- one of the first recipients of funding from the National Institute of Health for research on alternative medicine -- also studies the complexities of the relationship between spirituality and alternative medicine and the changing role of alternative medicine in the larger context of American health care. Probing such issues as the corporatization of medicine, the role of alternative medicine in health care, and the dynamic relationship between conventional and alternative treatments, Goldstein'sAlternative Health Careis more than the long-awaited introduction to the many forms of alternative medicine. It is also the measure of the implications of such care for practitioners, businesses, policymakers, and patients alike.Alternative Health Careis the definitive guide for the millions of Americans interested in alternative medicine and treatment, American health care, the sociology of medicine, and American social issues.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0567-8
    Subjects: Public Health

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. 1 The Emergence of Alternative Medicine
    (pp. 1-12)

    In 1983 when Joshua, my oldest son, was eighteen months old, a hot iron fell on his foot and remained there until the person watching him discovered it. Most of the skin on the top of his tiny foot was gone. The emergency room doctor, his pediatrician, and three or four physician friends who examined him all agreed this was a “third-degree burn.” There was no way it could ever heal by itself. The only reasonable course of action was a skin graft. The well-known surgeon at a highly regarded burn center concurred. Laura (his mother) and I both felt...

  5. 2 Victims of Medicine
    (pp. 13-39)

    To what is “alternative medicine” an alternative? In the United States health care institutions and professionals exist in such great numbers and diversity that defining what is meant by “mainstream” medicine is an increasingly difficult undertaking. In what observers call the “medicalization of everything,” medical terms, workers, and institutions have come to encompass most every domain of human interaction. Given such profusion, defining mainstream medicine as that which is typically taught in medical schools and practiced in hospitals may seem reasonable.

    In fact, mainstream medicine is undergoing constant change. Over the past few decades its credibility and status in society...

  6. 3 The Core of Alternative Medicine: Age-Old Wisdom Made New
    (pp. 40-73)

    Attending an alternative medicine conference, scanning the titles shelved under the heading of alternative medicine in a “megastore,” or “surfing the net” for sites related to alternative medicine can be both an overwhelming and a puzzling experience. The sheer volume of what is readily available, no less its vague boundaries and overlapping categories, are, at best, confusing. Beyond the rhetorical titles of some of the most popillar works (Total Health; Everyday Miracles; Ageless Body, Timeless Mind), the wide range of approaches, techniques, and philosophies encompassed is striking. There are specific healing techniques such as aromatherapy, flower remedies, massage, guided imagery,...

  7. 4 Medicine and the Spirit
    (pp. 74-109)

    Most of the core assumptions of alternative medicine differ from those of conventional biomedicine by degree and emphasis. Almost all physicians would grant that the mind and body are inseparably linked, and that being healthy is more than merely the absence of symptoms. Alternative and mainstream approaches differ over the extent of these relationships and their relevance to clinical decisions and outcomes. But spirituality, a vital component of most alternative techniques and the overall alternative perspective, is different. The centrality of spirituality to the alternative perspective elicits discomfort, if not hostility, from many conventional practitioners and health care institutions. For...

  8. 5 Is There Really an Alternative Medicine?
    (pp. 110-141)

    There is a set of core beliefs that conceptually unifies the wide range of alternative techniques and approaches. But how does alternative medicine manifest itself in the real world? When viewed over time, it is clear that alternative medicine is emerging as an actual reality in terms of practitioners’ cooperation in joint ventures and shared identity, as well as in the response of the larger society. The degree of cohesiveness, solidarity, and interaction is greater than ever before and is growing rapidly. This can be seen in the swiftly increasing number of joint activities in which different types of alternative...

  9. 6 The Politics of Alternative Medicine: Personal and Practical
    (pp. 142-184)

    Although being healthy or sick is an intimate, highly personal experience, these states have a political dimension as well. The political overtones of alternative medicine have the potential to empower some people, while leaving others feeling powerless by linking guilt and self-blame to being ill.

    The political implications of alternative medicine’s heavy emphasis on individual responsibility for health and healing have received intense scrutiny. Debate about the extent to which individual choice and personal responsibility are important in the cause and cure of illness dates back to Greek and Roman times. Alternative medicine’s current prominence has renewed and deeply emphasized...

  10. 7 Alternative Medicine, Mainstream Markets
    (pp. 185-218)

    Healers in every society have been compensated for their work. In America doctors have made a good living, at least since 1910 when the Flexner Report sharply restricted the number of new physicians. Until very recently, the medical profession has exemplified how one group can create, control, and monopolize a market for its own economic gains. But as centralization, bureaucratization, and corporate control of health care have rapidly advanced in the decades since the 1960s, the marketplace has reshaped the form and practice of American medicine. The term “nonprofit” is less and less likely to characterize hospitals and other health...

  11. 8 The Future of Alternative Medicine
    (pp. 219-232)

    Alternative medicine plays a significant and growing role in American society. However, predictions about the future of alternative medicine frequently take one of two forms. Some advocates describe the future in glowing terms. They speak of a “medicine of great possibilities” that can effectively reduce the growing tide of chronic illness, significantly increase life expectancy, bring about dramatic cures, and even lead humankind to a higher, more fulfilled state. In reaching each of these lofty goals, alternative therapies will leave the world of conventional care far behind. Others see a very different future for alternative medicine. They predict the piecemeal...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 233-248)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 249-270)
  14. Index
    (pp. 271-278)