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on 7 March 2006
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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on 31 August 2008
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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on 28 January 2006
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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on 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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on 17 October 2015
This is a good book for those looking to go into a career in Medicine, those in Medicine, or just those interested in the profession and what it is like. It involves stories of what it is like to be a doctor in different locations e.g. on a ship. It engages the readers in stories that make the reader reflect the doctor-patient relationship. Without spoiling it, all I can say is that its a good read.
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on 6 May 2014
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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on 26 December 2012
I found that this book was quite difficult to read, and quite boring too. I bought another book in the same vein and really enjoyed that one. I was quite disappointed too, when I read this one, and I couldn't recommend it to anyone, unless they like to read boring books!!
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on 1 March 2015
A very interesting read about his experiences of medicine around the world. A lot to be learnt from other cultures ways of practising.
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on 12 September 2014
Book was delivered on time and in good condition. Such an insightful book for anyone wishing to study medicine or currently studying.
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on 22 March 2007
An interesting book, easy to read, but I think concerns about confidentality mean that the stories are a little generic and that the character who comes across most clearly is Helman himself. He seems to be a decent doctor, but perhaps not as different from other GPs as he thinks - he cannot seem to stop himself from judging consultant colleagues or the family that call him out unnecessarily on Christmas Eve.
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