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Alternative Health Care

Michael Goldstein

Publication Year: 1999

In November of 1998 The Journal of the American Medical Association devoted 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's Alternative Health Care is 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's Alternative Health Care is 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 Care is 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.

Published by: Temple University Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. iii-v


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix

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1. The Emergence of Alternative Medicine

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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...

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2. Victims of Medicine

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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...

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3. The Core of Alternative Medicine: Age-Old Wisdom Made New

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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...

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4. Medicine and the Spirit

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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...

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5. Is There Really an Alternative Medicine?

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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...

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6. The Politics of Alternative Medicine: Personal and Practical

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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...

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7. Alternative Medicine, Mainstream Markets

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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...

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8. The Future of Alternative Medicine

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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"...


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pp. 233-248


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pp. 249-270


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pp. 271-278

E-ISBN-13: 9781439905678

Publication Year: 1999