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January 23, 1987

Encounters With Qi: Exploring Chinese Medicine

Author Affiliations

Health Resources and Services Administration Rockville, Md

Health Resources and Services Administration Rockville, Md

JAMA. 1987;257(4):549. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390040165040

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In the fall and winter of 1979-1980, David Eisenberg and I were fellow inmates at a medium-security institution on the outskirts of Peking—the language school, which served as a halfway house for foreign students awaiting release into Chinese academia at large. Among those privileged "prisoners of peace" in that initial cautious period, we were the first admitted from the United States to study medicine in China. Eisenberg was at that time between the third and fourth years of medical school. In the spring semester, he moved to the Beijing Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

His book explores traditional Chinese medicine in much the way he did, through a succession of enthralling encounters with tutors explaining yin and yang, diagnosticians examining tongues and pulses, practitioners prescribing herbs and acupuncture, and, eventually, masters of qi gong performing feats of parapsychological derringdo.

Anecdotes from events in and out of the classroom portray the