The Power of CAM
CAM is not widely taught in medical schools in Canada. Some treatments may be covered by health insurance, but many are not. An individual seeking out these treatments will typically have to pay for them out of pocket. CAM practitioners do not have the same level of social status as those trained in allopathic medicine and oftentimes the public is very skeptical of their practices. In many important ways this is because of cultural beliefs surrounding the medical model of illness.
Recall that according to the medical model of illness, the body should be viewed like a machine. When illness strikes, it means that one part of that machine is malfunctioning and needs to be fixed. The body is separate from the mind. It also asserts that bodies can be fixed in the same way- if a cure works for one person then it will work for everyone. The procedures, techniques, processes and medications are all carefully scrutinised from a scientific point of view.
Until the 1970s, allopathic doctors launched public and aggressive attacks against CAM practitioners. They used their position of domination in order to voice their skepticism as well as their objections to the state legalising and professionalising these practices. When they began to lose this battle, they changed tactics. They began to integrate some of the CAM methods into their practises – but only the ones that could ’scientifically’ be proven to be safe and effective. They condemned practices that could not be validated by science. Allopaths accepted CAM on their own terms and this allowed them to continue exercising their control.
- Answer the following questions:
a. Why do you think CAM has recently gained more popularity in Canada?
b. How do you think CAM practitioners could gain more power and social status in Canadian society?
c. Does CAM gaining more public support actually represent a challenge to dominant, mainstream medicine? Why can the two not work together?