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Suburban Shaman: tales from medicine's frontline [Kindle Edition]

Cecil Helman
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

‘Medicine is not just about science. It’s also all about stories, and about the mingling of narratives among doctors, and between them and their patients.’ So writes Cecil Helman after 27 years as a family practitioner in and around London interlaced with training and research as a medical anthropologist, comparing a wide variety of medical systems and other forms of healing. This unique combination of frontline health worker and detached academic informs the many stories that make up this fascinating book. It also informs the author’s insights into what human suffering can teach us about ourselves and our own attitudes to health and illness, whether we are deliverers or recipients of health care. With insight and compassion, Dr Helman’s stories take the reader on a journey from apartheid South Africa, where he did his medical training, to the London of the early 1970s, where for a short time he foreswore medicine to become an anthropologist and poet; from ship’s doctor on a Mediterranean cruise to family practitioner in London; from observing curative trance dances in the favelas of Brazil to interviewing sangomas in South Africa. While trained in the Western tradition and with many years of practice in that system, Dr Helman’s anthropological insight leads him to view illness in a wider personal, social and cultural context, considering elements beyond the purely physical. In pleading for this holistic approach he celebrates family medicine which ‘in its quiet and unassuming way, and every day of the week, is still at the very frontline of human suffering’.

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Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 448 KB
  • Print Length: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Hammersmith Health Books (22 May 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00FVECH88
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #228,873 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars suburban shaman 7 Mar. 2006
By A Customer
A fascinating book, lending a fresh slant on medicine, culture, and how personal experience informs our understanding of ourselves, others, and the world around us. Written with a light touch, compassion, sensitivity, honesty and humour. Highly recommended!!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
This has to be one of my all time favourite books. Cecil Harman takes the reader on an enthralling read through his experience in general practic. Short cases are interspersed with anthropological snippets that make the reader stop short and examine their own thoughts and practices. A refreshing change from the tree hugging cardigan wearing approach to GP which unfortunately seems to be seeping into medical schools throughout the UK. This book has truly made me sit up and think and examine and reflect on my day to day practice.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Suburban Shaman 28 Jan. 2006
By A Customer
I found Suburban Shaman an enthralling book of a clearly rewarding and inspiring life and career so far. Spanning from pre apartheid South Africa to being a family practitioner in London, the book illuminates the diversity of various approaches to medicine from the author's own experiences. However, far from being purely medical, Cecil Helman also applies his experience as a anthropologist contrasting western medicine with a more personal and cultural approach. The book is well written and worth reading for anyone interested in a fascinating life and/or gaining a broader understanding of medicine.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a mosaic and overview of medicine 13 April 2007
I don't agree that there is a 'knocking' of hospital medicine in this book . Helman looks at life and medicine with the wide lens that an interest in academic and practical anthropology offers .

Once you are immersed in a medical system the inherent dualism and specialism (which is obviously relevant in many areas of care ) becomes the norm in which all of lifes problems are interpreted . Helman offers a mosaic of stories which seem to me to put the heart back into the complexity of dealing with people .

Many of the practices of 'healing' whch are often ridiculed are given due respect when they are understood in their culural context . Some of the characterisations of 'techno medicine' v's 'holistic' medicine may seem a little polarised but it seems fair to say that there needs to be a balance , which in many situations is surely lacking in the current medical landscape (why would people seek help in Complimenatary medical care etc if this was not the case?)

I enjoyed many of the stories which ring true -- chemically dependent relationships, the miraculous 'cures' when a sick line is obtained and the relief and health improvement that occured once a buried story had been revealed.

The book is well written and the stories and anecdotes will stay with you for a long time if you are at all interested in people or medicine . I agree with Helman ,there needs to be a greater value placed upon the arts and humanities when understanding people .
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5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely book 6 May 2014
By Simmo
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As a Doctor all my life I found it resonated with me very much, a light and quick read as well as being a thoughtful one. Anyone would find it interesting, you do not need a medical degree to understand any of it.A happy book too despite its critical clarity of observation of our illnesses and how we live our modern life.
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