Chapter

TCM: Western Fears, Chinese Set Pieces

Paul U. Unschuld

in What Is Medicine?

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 2009 | ISBN: 9780520257658
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520944701 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520257658.003.0093
TCM: Western Fears, Chinese Set Pieces

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Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), which has had a reassuring effect on Western nations, came from China and some parts of Japan and Korea. The Chinese were needed as technicians in Western private clinics. There, they were skilful helpers. However, the fears of the citizens of industrialized Western nations were foreign to them. Tailoring so-called Chinese medicine to these fears is something they could not and perhaps still cannot manage. Modern immunology offered enough of war in the humans' bodies, not so much by the immunologists themselves, but by their interpreters: science journalists. For most people, the encounter with a potentially fatal illness is the most existential threat there is. No one wants to experience war in their own house, much less in their own body. At a time of existential fear, what is wanted is to feel warmth, empathy, and harmony. This is what TCM offers. It seems reassuring.

Keywords: traditional Chinese medicine; Western nations; Chinese; modern immunology; war; harmony

Chapter.  1194 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medical Anthropology

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