The Anthropology of Alternative Medicine

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2012-02-28
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic

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Alternative medicine is not a fashionable new trend but an established cultural strategy, as well as a dynamic feature of mainstream contemporary medicine, in which elements of folk traditions are often blended with western scientific approaches. The Anthropology of Alternative Medicineis a concise yet wide-ranging exploration of non-biomedical healing. The book addresses a broad range of practices including: substance, energy and information flows (e.g. helminthic therapy); spirit, consciousness and trance (e.g. shamanism); body, movement and the senses (e.g. reiki and aromatherapy); as well as classical medical traditions as complements or alternatives to Western biomedicine (e.g. Ayurveda). Exploring the cultural underpinnings of contemporary healing methods, while assessing current ideas, topics and resources for further study, this book will be invaluable to undergraduate and graduate students in anthropology, sociology, psychology, and health related professions such as nursing, physical and occupational therapy, and biomedicine.

Author Biography

Anamaria Iosif Ross is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Utica College, USA.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Alternative Medicine in the Twenty-First Centuryp. 1
Conflicting Interests Pertaining to the Rise of Integrative Medicinep. 7
What Distinguishes an Anthropological Approach to Alternative Healing?p. 9
Dominant Themes and Organization of the Bookp. 9
Anthropology and the Human Journeyp. 11
Healing Power and Agencyp. 14
What are Cultural Constructions and Why Does It Matter to Health Care?p. 16
A Bird's Eye Overview of Core Concepts in Medical Anthropologyp. 18
Curing or Healing?p. 20
Biomedicine and Traditional Medicinep. 22
Plural Healing in the Global Age: Intersections of Meaning and Powerp. 29
Current Practice: Helminths Return as Promising New Drugsp. 32
Substance, Energy, and Information Flowsp. 41
From the Flow of Rumors to Exposing the Global Traffic in Organs and Tissuesp. 45
Duality of Water: Vitality and Contaminationp. 49
Current Practice: Homeopathyp. 51
Energy, Life-Force, and the Powers of the Sunp. 53
Nourishment and Healingp. 56
The American Health Foods Movement in the Early Twentieth Centuryp. 61
Rising Trend: Alternative Consumption Movements in the Developed Worldp. 62
Humoral Medical Traditions, Foods, and Herbsp. 64
Case Study: ELTA Universitate-Natural Foods, Anesthesia, and Social Renewalp. 68
Of Information and the Triadic Approachp. 73
Energy, Dowsing, and Informationp. 75
Spirit, Consciousness, and Trancep. 81
Altered States, Bodies, and Soulsp. 86
Shamanic Consciousness and Symbolic Healingp. 94
Hypnosis, Spirit(s), and Healingp. 99
Current Practice: Rediscovering Hesychasm and the Prayer of the Heartp. 104
Rising Trend: Healing Addictions with ASCs and Hallucinogensp. 107
Faith Healing and Pilgrimagep. 109
Ayurveda and Mental Illnessp. 112
Body, Movement, and the Sensesp. 117
The Anthropology of Sensations and the Multidimensionality of Healing Workp. 122
Smell and Tastep. 125
Tactile Experiencesp. 129
Rhythm, Movement, and Music as Lifep. 132
Case Study: Becoming Radiant-Real Reiki in Postsocialist Romaniap. 135
Ascent into the Future: Aromatherapy, Art, and Science, Ancient and Modernp. 144
Current Practice: Medical Aromatherapyp. 148
Polythetic Medicinep. 150
Conclusion: Looking into the Future of Alternative Medicinep. 155
Referencesp. 159
Indexp. 175
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