This article is premised on a need to understand and analyse how those turning to
alternative and complementary medicines conceptualise the role of these practices;
to ask what kind of 'health' is produced through alternative and complementary medicines
and how might the help provided by these practices relate to questions of identity,
self and subjectivity? Even though alternative and complementary medicines can be
utilised in the face of serious illness, the healing produced through these practices
is here argued to transcend physiological health and relate rather to a subjectively
assessed sense of 'wellbeing'. In this article, authour analyses what this wellbeing
entails, in particular, in terms of contemporary understandings of selfhood as well
as in relation to the production of appropriate emotions through 'emotion management'.
It is argued that the wellbeing produced through alternative and complementary health
practices can be conceptualised as a means of asserting a particular kind of self
as well as a means of negotiating identities offered to people in wider societal
discourses and institutions. This article is based on qualitative interviews with
both practitioners and users of varied alternative and complementary medicines. The
focus is on women's experiences.