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Shadow MedicineThe Placebo in Conventional and Alternative Therapies$
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John Haller

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231169042

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231169042.001.0001

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Postmodernist Medicine

Postmodernist Medicine

(p.31) 2 Postmodernist Medicine
Shadow Medicine

John S. Haller

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines the rise of postmodernism in the second half of the twentieth century and the epistemological challenges it forced upon the core values of scientific positivism. Postmodernism viewed objectivity as an illusion, a set of images or metanarratives that fragmented both reason and meaning. Applied to medicine, it questioned the “truth” of the physician's reductionist account of illness, including those conclusions drawn from evidence-based medicine (EBM). It also revolted against patient objectification, inferring that the “truth” of an illness is no longer in the physician's objectivist and biomedical account, but in the patient's narrative. This resulted in the rise of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), a more intuitive and individualized approach to medicine. This new representation of illness involves social, psychological, and cultural components; innovative new discourses on pain, suffering, and empathy; and perceived limitations of the dominant biochemical model.

Keywords:   postmodernism, objectivity, medicine, evidence-based medicine, patient objectification, complementary and alternative medicine

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