The Healing Bond: The Patient-Practitioner Relationship and Therapeutic Responsibility

The Healing Bond: The Patient-Practitioner Relationship and Therapeutic Responsibility

The Healing Bond: The Patient-Practitioner Relationship and Therapeutic Responsibility

The Healing Bond: The Patient-Practitioner Relationship and Therapeutic Responsibility

Synopsis

The growing popularity of alternative therapies poses challenging questions for the medical establishment and the state. By confronting these questions, The Healing Bondmakes an important contribution to current debates about health care. The contributors, who are all experts in the fields of health care, social science and the law, focus on the relationship between patient and healer in both orthodox and non-orthodox forms of healing practice. They consider whether different forms of healing involve widely differing conceptions of the role and responsibilities of the healer, and deal with topical issues such as medical litigation, codes of ethics for complementary practitioners, and co-operation between orthodox and complementary medicine.

Excerpt

Susan Budd and Ursula Sharma

the scope of this book

This book is an attempt to explore one of the most important relationships in our lives—that between a person who feels or is told that he or she is sick or ailing in some way, and a person who tries to offer (professional) help.

This help has two components—the diagnostic knowledge and treatment that the expert can offer, and the relationship within which they are offered. Our title, The Healing Bond, conveys this double meaning: the relationship between healer and patient not only is a means of delivering treatment but also is, or can be, an aspect of healing itself. Orthodox medicine recognizes this, but focuses on the treatment which is offered by an expert to the patient as a passive recipient. in other forms of treatment the stress may be rather different. in psychoanalysis, for example, and in many forms of alternative medicine, the relationship between the sufferer and the therapist is acknowledged to be a more personal and intimate one, and the conception of treatment lays more explicit stress on the need for patients to participate in their own recovery.

Medical sociologists have studied the healing bond mainly in terms of relationships between patients and orthodox doctors. Much work in this field is informed by a desire to expose and explore the power dimension of this relationship, especially those forms of power which are not obvious but encoded in conversational practices, embedded in doctors’ informal solidarities, invisible or impenetrable to the individual patient (e.g. Strong, 1979). Anthropologists have tended to examine a wider range of healing practices and consequently a wider range of healer-client relationships and have been particularly concerned with the extent to which healers and their clients share a diagnostic language, an ‘explanatory model’ of health and illness. Their interest has largely centred on the way in which the degree of cultural community or discontinuity between the healer and the sufferer may help or hinder therapeutic communication (e.g. Kleinman, 1980:104ff).

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