Choice Project: Attending a CAM healing session

I just checked out the Choice Project Progress googlesheet and realized that more than half of the class has decided to Attend a CAM healing session for the first assignment.

While I’m excited that you’re all open to experiencing new forms of healing and will get the opportunity to integrate course theory with lived experience, I did notice a problem I did not anticipate when I originally constructed the assignment. 

Lots of you are planning to attend a healing session (such as yoga and meditation), but the first submission date (Sunday, March 22) is well before we will have covered those topics in the course. 

An important objective of this course is to give you the social and historical contexts of these different healing modalities — having you attend a healing session without having background knowledge of it both defeats the purpose of the assignment, but also limits you in your ability to integrate course concepts into your reflection and analysis. 

Therefore, I’m asking that you postpone attendance of a healing session until we’ve covered the material in the course.

If you’re planning on attending an Acupuncture, Traditional Chinese healing session or Chiropractic, you’re still good to go, although the turn around on analysis will be very short — again, assuming that you wait to schedule the session until after we’ve covered the material. 

Finally, a few of you have indicated that you want to attend a healing session of a modality we do not cover in the course material. For these instances, I’ve indicated in the assignment instructions that you need to first complete the “Curate Course Content” assignment on that specific modality so that you have socio-historical context before attending a session. 

To wrap up, if you’re one of the students that indicated you wanted to attend a healing session, please put that project on hold and pivot to your second project choice. You can still come back to the attend a healing session later in the semester. Also make sure that you update the Project Progress googlesheet, as well as your project pages on your EduBlogs. 

Week 7: CAM as a Reflection of Social Relations

The past two weeks our readings have focused on the relationship between the Holistic Health movement and the New Age movements, and their influence on the development of complementary and alternative medicine in the 1970’s.

Our focus now shifts to contemporary expressions of CAM. This week we’ll explore a more complicated and nuanced view of who consumes CAM, and why, while also focusing on Baer’s theory of resistance and accommodation in the modern context of CAM practices. Then our exploration shifts to the contemporary manifestations and historical developments of CAM that is inspired by Dharmic (Asian) religious healing systems. 


Discussion Group: 

Discussion Group Notes #3 is due on Sunday, March 1 

Midpoint Self- and Peer- Reflection is also due on Sunday, March 1 via iCollege Assignments

Make sure you read the assignment details and understand my expectations for comments on your self- and peer- participation. Reflections that lack detail, or indicate participation by students that were clearly not present, will be returned and a “zero” assigned until the issues are remedied. 

I suggest you make a copy of the attached document and type directly into the worksheet. Save it as a PDF and submit the reflection to the corresponding iCollege submission folder. 


Choice Projects: 

Keep updating the Project Progress Googlesheet and your individual project pages. 

If I comment on your project pages, make sure you respond promptly. If you need my immediate feedback (such as approval before scheduling to attend a healing session), email me directly in addition. 


Reflection Journals: 

This is a friendly reminder that you should continue to post on EduBlogs at least once a week. At this point, you should have, at minimum, 5 or 6 substantial reflections. 


Reading Prompts: 

I realized that I included the wrong reading on the syllabus. I’ve attached the appropriate reading (the last) and uploaded it to iCollege. 

“The American Dominative Medical System as a Reflection of Social Relations in the Larger Society”, Hans A Baer, (pg 1103-1111) – iCollege

  • How does Baer define “medical pluralism” ?
  • According to Baer, when does the corporate class and state sponsors support alternative medicine? 
  • In your own words, describe the relationship between biomedicine and corporate capitalism that Baer highlights. 
  • What is “social medicine”? 
  • What were some of the unintended consequences of the Flexner report?
  • Describe how the social classes are distributed throughout the biomedical workforce. 
  • According to Baer, what does professionalization provide to CAM providers / healers? 
  • Despite their almost indistinguishable original approaches to healing, how did Osteopathy and Chiropractic diverge in the 20th century to their modern manifestations? 
  • What is the Holistic Health movement as a whole (mainly white, middle class population) protesting? 
  • Despite the counter-culture tendencies of CAM, what similar traits to biomedicine does it exhibit (accommodation)? 
  • If we apply Baer’s theory of protest and accommodation to other communities’ use of CAM, what conclusions do you assume that we’ll be able to draw? 


“Beyond the Barriers: racial discrimination and the use of complementary and alternative medicine among Black Americans”, Tetyana Pylypiv Shippee, Markus H Scharfer, and Kenneth F Ferraro, (pg 1155-1162) – iCollege

  • How do the authors of this article define and differentiate the concepts of “major discrimination” and “everyday discrimination”? Which do they focus on in their study? 
  • Page 1156 describes various minority status communities that self-report discrimination and higher use of CAM. What does this tell use about CAM generally, and how does this relate to Baer’s theory? 
  • What are some of the potential outcomes of discrimination in the healthcare setting? 
  • What is this study’s conclusion about any type of discrimination (whether within medical care setting or not) and CAM use by Black folks?
  • Why would CAM appeal in the specific context of Black Americans? What might these users be resisting? Why might CAM be appealing in this context? 
  • What are the limitations noted in the study? 

“How Does Acculturation Affect the Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Providers Among Mexican- and Asian- Americans?”, Jennifer H. Lee, Michael S. Goldstein, E. Richard Brown, Rachel Ballard-Barbash,  (page 302-309) – iCollege

  • Why did the authors of this study pick chiropractic, massage, curanderos and acupuncturists / traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners to focus on? 
  • What were the main takeaways of this study’s results? In relation to Mexican-American immigrants? In relation to Asian-American immigrants?
  • The results of this study are a bit messy and complicated. What can this tell us about our assumptions about CAM use? 




  • Social medicine 
  • Major discrimination (systematic discrimination)
  • Everyday discrimination
  • Agentic Action
  • Acculturation
  • Bicultural identity

Week 6: New Age (Religious) Movements + Holistic Health

We began this semester exploring the social and historical contexts surrounding American relationships with healing and medicine, specifically around the themes of a value of things deemed “natural” and distrust of the medical establishment. 

Last week, we started to delve into the Holistic Health Movement of the 1970’s as an extension of American preoccupation with alternative healing. As you learned in those readings, the Holistic Health Movement and New Age religious values are so entangled as to be inseparable. 

This week, we’ll be exploring more about what informs New Age and American Metaphysical understandings of the world, common orientations despite the vast number of practices that fit under the umbrella of New Age practices, and some common criticisms aimed at the movement. 

A few themes that begin in these readings and continue throughout the semester include: questions of re-interpretation and continuity, issues of appropriation and syncretism, and the evolution of the New Age and Holistic Health movements in relation to the spiritual and medical marketplace.



Last week, part of your assignment was to:

If you haven’t already, do that IMMEDIATELY. 

Next, create a page on your EduBlogs and title it the name of the first project you are going to tackle. 

In this page, I want you to give me as many detail as you can about what project you’ve chosen – what’s the project, what’s the topic or healer or modality you’ll cover, etc. If you’re attending a healing session or interviewing someone, post that information here and wait for approval from me before you reach out to the healer. I’ll communicate with you via comments, so make sure to respond promptly to my comments

This is also a space where you’ll post drafts of the materials, so I can keep track of your progress. Again, it’s important that you promptly respond to any comments or advice I post in the comments. I’ll also ask you to make adjustments or turn something in; these individual due dates are always on Sunday evenings, unless otherwise negotiated with me. 



“The New Age Movement and Western Esotericism”, Wouter J. Hanegraaff (pg 25-50) – iCollege

  • Describe each of the different stages of development in the New Age movement
  • According to the author, how has the New Age movement transitioned? Do they interpret this as a sign of success or failure? 
  • According to the author, what religious trends are sometimes mistakenly categorized as New Age? 
  • How do the course theme of resistance and accommodation relate to the development of New Age movements? 
  • Describe the relationship of mind, body and spirit in the New Age movements.
  • According to this tradition, what is the relationship of healing to spiritual and physical wellbeing? 
  • What is the relationship between science and the New Age movements? 
  • Despite the variety of practices and beliefs that fall under the umbrella term “New Age”, what are some of the common themes and beliefs? 
  • How does the author articulate the difference between “re-interpretation” and “continuity” in these movements? 
  • What is the role of individualism in New Age values? 
  • Describe the impact of the capitalism market economy on the New Age movement (and religious traditions in general). 

“Metaphysical Healing and Health in the United States”, Brett Hendrickson (pg 347-355) – iCollege

  • How does Mind Cure and New Thought view health, illness and healing? How does this manifest in the Metaphysical / New Age traditions? 
  • How do New Age traditions understand wellness? 
  • Describe the continuum of New Age healing approach the author notes on page 350. How does this relate to earlier readings of taxonomy of healing traditions and our course theme of the process of legitimation that CAM modalities undergo? 
  • What is “universalization”, ahistoricity, and decontextual in the New Age context? Why is it understood to be problematic?
  • What is the relationship of Euro-American Metaphysicals to their own history? 
  • Define the terms appropriation, syncretism and borrowing. How are they different? What is the role of power (cultural, systematic, etc), and when is it “okay”? 
  • What is the relationship between CAM modalities (especially those with New Age and religious undertones), and the overwhelming Christian context in the US? How have different academics and social commentators approaches this syncretic adoption? 

Well + Good, “Spiritual Activist Rachel Ricketts Challenges White Women to Rethink Wellness”

  • How does Ricketts define wellness, in both the individual and communal sense? 
  • How does her activism relate to wellness? How does she define “spiritual activism”?
  • What criticisms of “wellness culture” does Ricketts highlight? 
  • What does Ricketts mean by the statement “wellness is political”? 
  • What does she mean by the phrase “violent experiences” in wellness spaces? 
  • What ideals is Ricketts’ hoping wellness spaces move towards? 
  • How does Rachel Ricketts’ article relate to our readings up until now? What connections do you see? 

View this post on Instagram

This powerful message from @iyaamiaje sums up the work I do day in and day out.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ White Supremacy. Is. Trauma. For both the oppressed and oppressor in varying ways. It causes mental, physical, emotional and spiritual harm. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ It is a sickness. A dis-ease that results in people of color, especially Black and Indigenous womxn, enduring violence – physical or otherwise – day in and day out. It disconnects while people from their heart space + robs them of inner peace.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ As Toni Morrison said “if I take your race away, and there you are, all strung out. And all you got is your little self, and what is that? What are you without racism? Are you any good? Are you still strong? Are you still smart? Do you still like yourself? I mean, these are the questions. Part of it is, ‘yes, the victim. How terrible it’s been for Black people.’ I’m not a victim. I refuse to be one… if you can only be tall because somebody is on their knees, then you have a serious problem. And my feeling is that white people have a very, very serious problem…"⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ This is a POTENT time my bbs. We are ALL being called upon to step the fuck up and wake ourselves from slumber. We are undergoing an intense re-activation. Are you ready? Are you working with the energy, or straining against it?⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Are you committed to healing the trauma that is white supremacy and creating an entirely new reality? I sure as hell am. Join me. xo R

A post shared by Rachel Ricketts (she/her) (@iamrachelricketts) on


  • Western Esotericism
  • Theosophical Society
  • Age of Aquarius
  • New Religious Movements
  • Spiritual Marketplace
  • Chakras
  • Subtle Energies
  • Humanistic Psychology
  • Transpersonal Psychology
  • Neo-pagan
  • Neo-shaman
  • Dualism
  • Reductionism
  • Occultism
  • Self-Religion / (higher) Self
  • Metaphysical Religion
  • Synchronicity
  • “Spiritual but not Religious” / SBNR
  • Mind Cure
  • New Thought
  • Universalization
  • Ahistoricity / Decontextualization 
  • Racist Heteropatriarchy
  • Internalized oppression
  • Spiritual Bypassing
  • Gaslighting
  • Hierarchy of Healing

Choice Project // Description Videos + Discussion Forum

I realize that the choice project may seem confusing or daunting, so I took some time today to record a number of short videos where I talk through the assignments, both as a larger project and then individually.

I’ve attached those videos below (the last two assignment videos will be live by tomorrow morning, they’re still uploading to YouTube and it’s slow going). You can also navigate to them from the course landing page by Course Documents > Choice Project > Choice Project Videos. 

If you have any initial questions, please comment within this thread or you can email me directly. 

I’ve also added a forum menu where you can ask your peers (and me) questions about the specific projects, share ideas and inspiration, and troubleshoot through technology and research issues. 















Week 5: The Holistic Health Movement

This week we’re jumping ahead another seventy years to the 1970’s and the emergence of the Holistic Health Movement, when alternative health (in a much more recognizable form) starts to explode as a cultural phenomenon. 

Take note that, during this intervening time (especially 1900-1950), a number of huge medical developments happen: the emergence of “scientific medicine” at the turn of the century, the wonder drugs of the 30’s, and the development of antibiotics in the 40’s. The CAM healing modalities we’ll be discussing moving forward are positioning themselves in relation to / against this form of medicine and will referred to as “biomedicine” moving forward. 

Sevananda Co-op AtlantaOur readings this week focus on the Holistic Health Movement (and the deeply interwoven “spiritual” values of the New Age Movement, which we’ll tackle more next week). As you read, I’d like you to start making connections to the “new” natural healing modalities and the themes that emerged in the values of Euro-American natural healing modalities (homeopathy, naturopathy, osteopathy, chiropractic): a strong distrust of regular medicine and a desire for “natural” healing (although “natural” continues to be defined in a variety of ways). 

I’d also like you to keep an eye towards critiques of the Holistic Health Movement. Why does Baer consider it to be engaged in a “limited holism”? What populations is this movement marketing itself toward, and what voices / perspectives are being ignored? 


The last reading, “Alone in a Sea of Rib-Tips’: Alvenia Fulton, Natural Health, and the Politics of Soul Food”, is one of my favorite readings thus far, if not the entire semester. I hope that, as we move forward in the semester, you take note of the communities outside of “White Healthism” that are engaged in creative reimagining and cultural transformation, while simultaneously addressing issues of access, cultural identity and disrupting systems of discriminating to ensure the health and wellness of their communities.


Choice Projects: 

Your main assignment for this week is to:

  1. review the overall Choice Project details
  2. explore the assignment details for each of the projects, and 
  3. report in the Project Progress googlesheet what you’d like to tackle first

Moving forward, update your line of the Project Progress every Sunday, including this Sunday, February 16th.


Reflection Journal: 

This is a friendly reminder that you are to post to your journals at least once every week, and respond via comments to two other peer posts per week. Every. Week. 

I’ve gotten behind on checking in on your progress because my attention has been focused on the Choice Project, but moving forward I’ll be reviewing and commenting every week. If I comment on your posts, make sure you either respond in the comments or follow up in a longer reflection post. 


Reading Prompts:

Nature Cures: “The Holistic Health Explosion: Acupuncture” (only 245-257)

  • What seems familiar about the holistic health movement (in relation to our previous readings?) What is new about the approach? 
  • Briefly describe the trends of the medical development between the turn of the 20th century and the 1950’s.
  • What themes of dissatisfaction with the biomedical establishment mirrorw those of the early 19th century? 
  • What are the main critiques of biomedicine according to the 1970’s holistic health approach? How do these mirror or differ from complaints of the 19th century? 
  • What are the values of the secular humanist counterculture movement? How did these values influence the holistic health movement’s resistance to the biomedical establishment? 
  • What are the guiding principles of the holistic medical approach?
  • Describe the relationship between the rise of holistic approaches and the revitalization of general practitioners and family medicine? 

Toward an Integrative Medicine: Chapter 1: “The Popularization of Holistic Health and New Age Movements”, (pg 1-24)

  • How does Baer describe the relationship between the Holistic Health Movement and the New Age Movement? 
  • What historical events (in American immigration law) led to a more open dialogue and access to Eastern philosophies? 
  • What is the role of healing in the Holistic Health and New Age Movements?
  • What role do food co-ops, health food stores, bookstores and holistic health centers play in the spread of the Holistic Health and New Age Movements? 
  • Who does the Holistic Health Movement typically market itself to? Why? How does this vary depending on the form of the content being consumed? 
  • Describe the contradictory tendencies of resistance and professionalization described by Baer in the Holistic Health movement. 
  • What is the relationship between capitalism, the spiritual (and medical) marketplace and the New Age Movement? 
  • What does Baer mean by his critique that the Holistic Health Movement “engages with a limited holism”? 

“‘Alone in a Sea of Rib-Tips’: Alvenia Fulton, Natural Health, and the Politics of Soul Food” – iCollege


  • Describe Fulton’scommunity-oriented work and how it informed her approach to health, nutrition and wellness in the Black community. 
  • Describe the relationship between Fulton’s restorative health program and the Black Freedom Struggle. 
  • Why is health and wellness within the Black community considered an intersectional issue between race, medicine, and political activism? What are some of the conditions that led to Civil Rights activists to focus on disparities in healthcare? 
  • What was the cultural role of Soul Food in the Civil Rights Movement? 
  • Why was it so difficult for nutritionists to convince Black folks to reduce their consumption of Soul Food?
  • What were some of the cultural narratives around Soul Food during the 1960’s? 
  • What role did Soul Food restaurants play in activist communities during this period?
  • Describe the cultural narrative that Fulton reframed in reimagining the historical roots of Soul Food.
  • Describe some of the other “Food Rebel” communities that are emphasizing alternative, plant-based diets for Black Americans.How was Fulton’s approach fundamentally different?
  • What is Fulton’s relationship with “White Healthism”?
  • What are some of the connections between white health programs and eugenics? Note how this is briefly mentioned in this chapter and, has to this point, been entirely absent from the other chapter’s discussions of the Holistic Health Movement…
  • List and describe some (of the many) things Fulton is “resisting” throughout this chapter.



  • Biological reductionism 
  • Biomedicine
  • Original (biological) definition of holisim
  • 1970’s definition of holism
  • Secular humanism
  • Biopsychosocial approach
  • Human Potential Movement
  • Religious Universalism
  • Self Actualization
  • Aquarian Age
  • Audience Cult
  • Limited Holism 
  • Vernacular Healer
  • Materia Medica
  • American Healthism / White Healthism
  • Food Rebels
  • Natural Health Food movement

Choice Project is Live!

Whew! Y’all, that took so, SO much time and energy to get together. It’s definitely been a labor of love and I hope that shows as you consume it from a student perspective. I find that the courses where I’m introducing a new, somewhat experimental approach (at least in the university setting) are both the riskiest, but also seem to be the most successful. With that being said, I really hope it’s a process you enjoy over the course of the semester. 

Before we get to the specific details, I know I am late in getting the assignment materials to you. I apologize for the inconvenience. 

As a result, I’m pushing back the first due date to Sunday, March 22nd.*

  • Note: this is the last Sunday of Spring Break.

While that will give you a little extra time to tackle the assignment (although I honestly doubt many students work on course assignments during break), as you’ll see in the assignment details, there will be consistent check-in’s on your progress every Sunday. The process will not allow you to procrastinate and leave everything to the very end. 

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab


This may be a really foreign assignment concept to many of you. In essence, there are six different assignments with different values. You get to pick whichever assignments appeal to you.

You must complete four stars (☆☆☆☆) worth of assignments by March 22nd due date, and a total of eight (8) stars by the end of the semester. 

The landing page for the overall assignment links out to the individual assignment details, all housed within GoogleDocs. 

Your assignment this week (along with readings and reflections) is to review the overall Choice Project details, explore the each of the potential projects and their details, and then report in the Project Progress googlesheet what you’d like to tackle first. 

Post in the comments section any thoughts or questions you may have. I’m excited to know what you think. 

Tell me, what are you first impressions of the project design? What assignment are you most excited (or most intimidated) by? What CAM modality are you interested in learning more about, and how can you integrate that into your project?

Week 4: Osteopathy and Chiropractic

This week’s readings focus on two manual CAM healing systems that became (and continue to be) popular in the United States in the 19th and early 20th centuries. While our readings focus on their early histories, rather than their later influence and development, these chapters continue to highlight the social and medical environments in which CAM emerged: a distrust for regular medicine and pharmacological drugs, and well as a desire to utilize pragmatic and “natural” healing methods. 


As we’ll see in later chapters, Baer describes the process by which CAM healing systems resist biomedical systems, but eventually come to adjust their practice to accommodate medical licensing standards. As you read, think about how this trend is evident in the early development of Osteopathy and Chiropractic.


Discussion Groups

Group Discussion Notes #2 is due on Sunday, February 9th (via iCollege)

While I noted it on some of the first submissions, the Group Discussion Notes are supposed to reflect the conversation you’ve had as a group. They may not hit on every question I pose in the readings (although they should touch on each chapter assigned), but they should reflect the breadth and depth of your conversation. 

They should NOT be an amalgamation of different group members submitting individual notes. This type of submission will not be accepted moving forward. 

If you have any questions about what is expected in this assignment, or would like to see another student group example, please email me directly. 


Reflection Journals

Adjustments* due on Sunday, February 9th

    • Customize your EduBlog theme and appearance
    • Clear out the “noise” 
    • Add a picture or avatar
    • Adjust your comments setting (most already done) 
    • Adjust your timestamp to Eastern Standard Time (EST)

*For details, see Thursday’s post 


Choice Projects

Assignment details are still in progress and will be posted later this week. 

Reading Prompts: 

Nature Cures: The Rule of Artery: Osteopathy (pg 141-163)

    • What do you know about the role of Revival “Camp Meetings” in early American Christianity? What are the parallels you see between Still’s style as an itinerate healer? 
    • What theory of health and disease informed early Osteopathy? 
    • What is the relationship between Osteopathy and Natural Theology? 
    • What does Still mean by the phase, “An Osteopath is only a human engineer”? 
    • Who did the healing system appeal to? Why?
    • What  is involved in the practice of Osteopathy? (What does it look like? What happens to the patient?)
    • What was early Osteopathy’s relationship to drugs? To surgery? How did this change over the course of the system’s development? 
    • How does the course theme of “resistance and accommodation” appear in the history of Osteopathy? 

Nature Cures: Innate Intelligence: Chiropractic (pg 165-190)

    • Describe D.D. Palmer’s theory of health and disease related to the phrase, “Founded in tone”
    •  What is unique about Palmer’s understanding of nerve impingement? 
    • What is involved in the Chiropractic technique? 
    • How do Chiropractic and Osteopathy differentiate themselves from one another? 



  • Bonesetting
  • Circuit rider
  • Camp Meeting (Revival)
  • Natural Theology
  • Lesion
  • Subluxation
  • Innate Intelligence

Assignment: Adjusting Your EduBlog

On Tuesday I was able to check the status of your EduBlogs, give a bit of feedback on your of your posts, and to reflect on the themes you discussed as a group. 

Today, I’d like to alert you to changes to you blogs moving forward — remember, learning this platform is a slow process, so every week I’ll likely have you add a few small adjustments I expect you to master. 

I expect these changes to be made by Sunday, Feb 9th, if not earlier.  

On your reflections: 

Reminders of the Post Requirements

    • At least one (1) post per week
    • At least two (2) comments on other student journal posts per week 
    • Respond to comments on your own posts

What to write about: 

    • Write in relation to what we’re studying together
    • Write and comment substantially

Add paragraph spacing

A single block of text is really difficult to read. Break out your thoughts into new paragraphs.

This might mean that some of your paragraphs are only 2-3 sentences long (some should be longer to show you’re developing ideas), but it’s much easier to process if you have disparate thoughts than cramming them into one, long “paragraph” 


On commenting: 

These should also be substantial! Poke around the various peer blog options until a post really resonates with you, and comment there — rather than just picking the first you come across. 

Responding: “Hi! I like you reflection and agree with you!” is definitely not substantial. 


On EduBlog Settings

Start to tinker around with the settings on your blog. 

Customize your blog (through themes and appearance) 

At this point, about half- to two-thirds of the blogs are still in the GSU default theme. Start playing around with different themes to find one that appeals to you. 

This is not just a skill you’re gaining (adjusting settings on wordpress), but also gives each blog a custom feel and makes it easier for me to distinguish and identify you as student authors.

Clear out the “noise”

Many of the blogs still have the example widgets, posts, and comments that were pre-loaded on the blogs.

Within the appearance settings, you should be able to delete and rearrange any widgets that you aren’t using. 

Also, go into posts and delete the first example post and comments, unless you’ve already written over them. 

Add a picture / avatar

Cvanholm1 AvatarCvanholm1 picture

I’d like to see your face (or a representation of you) when you post and comment

You can either upload an image of yourself, or create an avatar (ala Bitmoji, avatar maker, etc) 

Adjust your comments settings

Make sure you’ve adjusted the settings moving forward so that comments are automatically approved and posted. 

Adjust your timestamp to EST time

Trigger Warning in Week 3 Reading

I meant to include this in the Reading Prompts, but somehow missed it while reviewing my notes. 

While it’s late in the week, I assume that most of you don’t get to your readings until the weekend. If not, I apologize for the delay.

That being said, within “Chapter 3: Homeopathy”, on page 74, the author includes a dated quote that is meant to highlight the conflict between homeopathy and regular medicine. This quote contains a racial slur against Black folks.

I find it really inappropriate that the author / historian decided to use the quote directly, and wish I had caught it sooner. Again, I’m sorry that I didn’t and for my delay in alerting you to the issue. I will do my best to do better next time.

If you prefer not to read that section (Allopathic Ridicule of Homeopathy, pages 70-74), you are welcome to. Or you could simply read the beginning of the chapter (49 – 70) and move on. 

For my Black and Indigenous students, please let me know if you have any concerns about this issue, or suggestions on how to handle similar situations moving forward. I welcome and value your input. 

Meta-Reflection: A reflection on your reflections

I spent the good part of three hours today reading through your first EduBlog reflections and the comments. While I spent a substantial amount of time making sure to comment on each of your reflections, I wanted to take a moment to reflect myself on what I saw in your responses as a whole. I won’t be able to do this every week, but its important to me that 1) you know that I’m reading and reflection on your thoughts and 2) that I can do a similar project that I’m asking you to do. 

So here we go! A few themes that I noticed while reading your reflections today, and my response…

(side note:  I’m now wishing I had started tracking the topics and main phrases y’all used to make a word cloud — oh well, next time)


A general distrust and distaste for modern medicine and big pharma

Over the course of the semester, this theme will arise again and again. The idea that modern Western medicine is missing the mark somehow – whether it be the lack of time spent with patients, the strong drugs with adverse side effects, the over prescription of said drugs, or a limited (rather than holistic) scope of practice that focuses only on the body and not the “whole person.”

What I hope you realize through the next weeks is that this dissatisfaction with heroic medicine / regular medicine / biomedicine (whichever medical system has the hegemonic power) has pervaded the American psyche. This is not a new phenomenon nor a return to past – it’s always been there. 


Issues with accessibility to regular / biomedicine — 

Connected to the distrust of regular / heterodox medicine is the general sense that it’s inaccessible, not just to patients, but also the process of “legitimation” made it an inaccessible profession to any person that wasn’t white and male. While I didn’t assign the chapter this time around, Baer has an excellent discussion of the role of corporate capitalism in the rise of biomedicine. He pays special attention to the Flexner Report. It’s stated intent was to ensure that medical practitioners were held to a high standard for the protection of patients, but a (unintended?) consequence was the closure of many medical schools that allowed women and Black doctors.

A related issue is the prohibitive cost of healthcare from regular physicians. As we’ll see a bit in this week’s readings (Week 3), regular medicine was typically more expensive than alternative modalities — it most definitely is now. In terms of Thomsonian medicine, he imagined the ultimate democratization of healing — “every (hu)man (their) own doctor” — (but I’d also push back on the idea that these early healers were completely altruistic and “good hearted” as some of you mentioned in your reflections; they were still making good money selling the rights to their approach).

The conversation of accessibility healthcare will become more complex as we work through the syllabus: first with conversations about the Holistic Health Movement and New Age healing (usually upper- or middle-class white women who have disposable income), but then broadening our conversations to different types of CAM that may (or may not) appeal to other communities, especially Black, Indigenous, and immigrant communities that face discrimination and trauma by the biomedical community. 

My questions for you here are: Throughout these different historical periods, what are some of the barriers of access to regular / biomedical care? And what happens when biomedical care doesn’t “work” / cure (in the case of chronic illness)? How do you imagine some of these issues relate to who practices / is a patient of alternative medicine? What about biomedical care seems insufficient, and how are the values of alternative medicine filling those gaps? 


A desire for “natural” and “holistic” — 

Time and again in your posts I read comments about how y’all (or your families) were much more receptive to healing modalities that were “natural” – whether that meant an avoidance of prescription meds because of their side effects, or because “clean living” and healthier lifestyles lead to less disease in the first place, or that modern medicine is limited in effectiveness and needs to “integrate” with alternatives… These are also not new or modern concepts. As we’ll see in this week chapters, but especially in the Holistic Health movement, these values are consistently part of American’s views on healing. 

A few more questions to keep in mind as we continue to read: How do all of these communities define “natural”? What does “holistic medicine” mean, especially in the context of the Holistic Health movement? Despite alternative medicine’s attention to “holism” , how does it continue to be “limited” (per Baer)? 


Personal and familiar use of a variety of “alternative healing” practices

Thank you all for sharing your personal and familiar / community experiences of CAM healing! Some of the practices that y’all mentioned included:  folk and ethno- medicine (teas, herbs, tinctures, oils), parochial medicine (incense, prayer for healing), and some New Age healing (crystals, energy healing).

I’d love to know more about all of these practices, especially the folk medical traditions used in your family – to the extend that you’re willing to share. Some of the most powerful reflections and connections to material happen when we talk about things related to your life, your family, your community… One student even mentioned calling their mom to share that a leader from their religious communities was mentioned in the one of the chapters — that made my day! And while that won’t happen every week, hopefully once or twice throughout the semester we’ll touch on something that resonates with your experience. 

Another great source of content for your reflections would be the integration of how you see CAM pop up in your daily life. Snap pictures while you’re at the grocery store waiting in line (so many health magazines draw on CAM and holistic health movement ideals), at the esoteric shop (New Age healing), the tea that your grandma make when you’re sick or the tonic that a friend sends from abroad (folk medicine, herbal remedies, “Eastern” healing). Once you start looking, you might see it everywhere! 

On a personal note, as a child of California hippies (my mom was at UC Berkeley in the late 60’s and my dad considers himself a (neo)shaman (yes, in all the very problematic ways) — most of the content we’ll cover this semester (at least the modalities that are marketed to middle-class while folks) is familiar to me and feels a bit like “home” — and I find it really fascinating (and an opportunity of growth to encounter all the problematic ways I was raised) to explore the history of practices that were just a part of my background growing up.