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April 23, 1982

Patients and Healers in the Context of Culture: An Exploration of the Borderland Between Anthropology, Medicine, and Psychiatry

JAMA. 1982;247(16):2294. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320410070039

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


Medical anthropology is rich with anecdote and description focused on one or another aspect of patients or diseases, practitioners or healing, symbolisms or religion. This book takes us beyond such details and provides an integrating theoretical framework, operational models, and a systematic methodology of study that will allow the clinician and investigator to avoid the quagmires of ethnocentricity and reductionist formulation.

The material is based on ten years of comparative cross-cultural research of Chinese medical systems at the National Taiwan University, Harvard University, the University of Washington, and the National Institutes of Health. The studies have been adumbrated in many papers and are now forcefully explicated in this excellent book. Models are provided for conceptualizing an entire system of self-care, family care and responsibility (a major aspect in Chinese culture), popular medicine, herbalists, the shop-specialty of bone setters, traditional Chinese medicine, Western biomedical practice, Tang-ki shaman therapists, and the temple-based