The Collective as Aetiology in the Clinical Practice of Chinese Medicine
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This paper examines the idea that in order to gain a more complete understanding of a patient’s illness, one must also examine the influence of society and culture. The author proposes that culture itself may be a contributing factor in individual pathology. A review of the historical understanding of aetiology in Chinese medicine is followed by a discussion of the relationship between the individual and society. How society can make individuals ill is explored in the context of societies’ systems and institutions. The notion that individuals can help heal a dysfunctional culture is also addressed. The final section delves into more practical clinical concerns, including how to converse and work with patients regarding collective sickness.
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