Biomedicine is often thought to provide a scientific account of the human body and of illness. In this view, non-Western and folk medical systems are regarded as systems of 'belief' and subtly discounted. This is an impoverished perspective for understanding illness and healing across cultures, one that neglects many facets of Western medical practice and obscures its kinship with healing in other traditions. Drawing on his research in several American and Middle Eastern medical settings, Professor Good develops a critical, anthropological account of medical knowledge and practice. He shows how physicians and healers enter and inhabit distinctive worlds of meaning and experience. He explores how stories or illness narratives are joined with bodily experience in shaping and responding to human suffering and argues that moral and aesthetic considerations are present in routine medical practice as in other forms of healing.
"The book reflects more than two decades of Good's work as a researcher, writer, and teacher...offers an excellent overview of some of the controversies in medical anthropology today and provides ample ammunition for those who would demonstrate the field's relevance to the practice of medicine. Medicine, Rationality, and Experience is essential reading for anyone interested in the common ground between the medical and social sciences. The determined reader will be rewarded with a wealth of insight relevant to clinical practice, research, and teaching." New England Journal of Medicine "The book critically explores the history of anthropology's relation to biomedicine and various phases in the emergence of medical anthropology as a discipline...This is an accessible work based on public lectures and makes no assumptions about prior knowledge, but includes the usual scholarly paraphernalia...I recommend it for those curious about the intellectual landscape surrounding the awesome ramparts of biomedicine." Gene Feder, The Lancet "Medical anthropologists and anthropologists in other subdisciplines will find Medicine, Rationality, and Experience satisfying because of Good's historical treatment of theoretical developments in the field and his imaginative reconfiguring of a phenomenology of medical practices. This book will also be of interest to physicians and other health care providers, social scientists, philosophers, and medical humanists concerned and curious about the social construction of illness, suffering, and medical knowledge...His arguments and his illustrations are compelling and thought-provoking. As in the past, Professor Good reminds us once again of the transformative power of the individual and the social imaginations in the context of illness and disease." Patricia A. Marshall, Academic Medicine