Communication & Medicine, Vol 9, No 3 (2012)

Damning with faint praise: How homoeopaths talk about conventional medicine with their patients

John Chatwin

Abstract


Homoeopathy is one of the most widely used forms of complementary medicine in the West. However, its methods and philosophical underpinnings are basically polarized in relation to those of conventional medicine. Many homoeopathic patients choose to continue using conventional medicine while they receive homoeopathy, but from a homoeopathic perspective, these treatments are often regarded as undesirable or even damaging. This article will utilize the principles of conversation analysis (CA) to explore points in homoeopathic consultations where practitioners address their patients’ use of conventional medications. It will be suggested that approaches which display a degree of incorporation are preferred to those which imply categorical rejection. By not emphasizing the underlying tensions between conventional and homoeopathic paradigms, and displaying an adaptive and inclusive approach, homoeopathy essentially sets itself up as a parallel (i.e. equal) system, rather than one that is purely in opposition to the dominant medical model.

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