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Healing Bodies, Feeling Bodies: Embodiment and Alternative and Complementary Health Practices

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Publication details

JournalSocial Theory and Health
DatePublished - 1 Aug 2006
Issue number3
Number of pages18
Pages (from-to)203-220
Original languageEnglish


Many alternative and complementary medicines - even those that may not explicitly focus on the body - pay attention to the body as significant for understanding and addressing the well-being of the person. This article outlines ideas of the body in alternative and complementary medicines. It analyses the ways in which bodies are conceptualized and treated as related to wider societal trends, including contemporary conceptualizations of selfhood, and the increasing significance of discourses of interconnectedness. However, this paper also argues that the ways in which the body is constructed in alternative and complementary health practices is important for understanding the potential production of experiences of healing and well-being; the kind of health offered through embodied alternative and complementary health practices is argued to transcend the physiological body and reach also to the socially inscribed identities of many of those turning to these practices. In other words, many alternative and complementary health practices can be seen to treat 'body images' as well as the physiological body. This paper draws on qualitative interviews with users and practitioners of alternative and complementary medicines. The focus is on women's experiences.

    Research areas

  • alternative and complimentary health practices, embodiment, gender, health, subjectivity

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