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By Roberta E. Bivins (auth.)

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Extra info for Acupuncture, Expertise and Cross-Cultural Medicine

Sample text

79 The idea that the same symptoms can be, and often are, interpreted differently depending on their context is by now a truism; its connection with the communication of medical ideas and innovations is evident (if complex), particularly in the case of Chinese medicine. A profound language barrier, heightened by abstruse medical jargon on each side, exacerbated a clash between markedly different ideas of the body, health and disease which was itself mediated by unsatisfied expectations of the doctor± patient relationship.

As the Macartney mission was being planned, medicine was coming into its own as a tool for demonstrating the superiority of European civilization. 82 Of course, medicine was also drafted into service as a gauge for the general character and state of civilization of the Chinese. Like foot-binding, and confinement of women, the medical ability and 42 Acupuncture, Expertise and Cross-Cultural Medicine oddities of the Chinese were considered to reflect deeper truths about them. 83 The reactions and writings produced by the elite (or like Barrow, aspirationally elite) members of the Macartney Embassy certainly fit this pattern.

35 While the impression given in Staunton's text is that the Colao's case was in fact handled in this way, Gillan was actually discussing the typical claims made by Chinese healers, rather than the behaviour of the physicians in any particular case ± his narrative speaks more of bedside arrogance than ignorance. '36 Gillan himself (as Staunton noted) made considerable efforts to make his prestigious patient feel at ease: After the first ceremonies were over . . he made me sit down on the couch .

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