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The Search for Wellbeing in Alternative and Complementary Health Practices

Опубликовано на портале: 04-03-2007
Sociology of Health and Illness. 2006.  Vol. 28. No. 3. P. 330-349. 
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.
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