Nearly four in ten American use complementary or alternative medicine (CAM) each year. Even with a large number of patients, CAM practitioners face scrutiny from physicians and biomedical researchers who, in an era of evidence-based medicine, argue there is little evidence to support CAM treatments. Examining how CAM has or has not been integrated into American health care is crucial in understanding the contemporary boundaries of healthcare systems.
We often speak of health care as a social good. What kind of good it is--and what justice requires of us in making it available to the members of society--depends on how society understands it. Yet the value of health care may be understood in many different ways within society.
Discussions regarding the use of hypnotism in dentistry featured prominently in dental journals and society proceedings during the decades around the turn of the twentieth century. Many dentists used hypnotic suggestion either as the sole anesthetic for extractions or in conjunction with local and general anesthetics for excavation and cavity filling.
Faith in paranormal cures has always been the last hope of many sufferers from chronic or incurable diseases. Magico-religious rituals of healing are still around, but some have been replaced by pseudo-scientific systems, thinly disguising old superstitions in new obscurantism, more appealing to the half-educated. In medical quackery, inventiveness seems to be limitless, and only the main paranormal healing systems can be reviewed here.
Expanding upon Navarro's analysis of the American biomedical sector, I argue that the phenomenon of medical pluralism has historically and continues to reflect class, racial/ethnic, and gender relations in American society. The evolution of the American medical system is traced from a relatively pluralistic one in the nineteenth century to a dominative one in the twentieth century.