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In this essay I will re-analyze my and my friend’s experience through the lens of Csordas and Klienman’s theories on the four conceptions of therapeutic process. Doing so demonstrates that the actual medical care received was relatively unimportant compared to other healing aspects of the experience for my friend.
In my original understanding, the medical care’s role played a central aspect in my friend’s healing. In a physical sense, this is quite true: he probably would have died without prompt and proper medical care, which included pumping his stomach and a blood transfusion. But it is also clear that my friends problems went far beyond simple physical issues caused by his suicide attempt: he had repeatedly shown to be unable to cope, and had shown that counseling and cajoling from his family was of little use. Something drastic had to shift in his life, and it did, fortunately. But interestingly, this shift did not seem to come as a direct result of his medical care, but rather of the attempt itself, and the fact that he survived it. As Csordas and Klienman note, a therapeutic procedure can take on many forms, which include not only “physical techniques” such as the blood transfusion that my friend received, but also “prayers recited, symbolic objects manipulated, [and] altered states of consciousness” (1996, pg. 15). They define outcomes as the satisfaction patient receives from their course of care, which can include healing but also many other forms of satisfaction.
Obviously the outcome of this event was very good, but as Csordas and Klienman note, “therapeutic outcomes … [are] remarkably complex” in terms of studying, because there are often too many variables to measure. This comes in part from the subjective nature of an outcome: a patient who has not been healed of cancer, but is at peace ...