By Roberta E. Bivins (auth.)
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Extra resources for Acupuncture, Expertise and Cross-Cultural Medicine
Barrow described this strange behaviour explicitly as `performance', and shared with Staunton the comparison of pulse-reading to the showy gestures of a harpsichordist. '15 Barrow concluded his retelling of the event by remarking that, `I shall not take upon me to decide whether this conclusion was drawn from his skill in the pulse, or from a conjecture of the nature of the complaint from the medicines which had been demanded . . '16 In this example of a medical encounter, the exotic opacity of the Chinese medical performance rendered its apparent therapeutic efficacy even more incredible ± at least to an audience whose expectations were firmly embedded in the protocols and praxis of western medicine.
In both the published and unpublished reports, the authors made it clear that Chinese theories about the pulse led inevitably to an incorrect diagnosis. Such a diagnosis could only produce a ridiculous therapeutic strategy. In Ho-Shen's case, Gillan and Staunton described both the observed process of diagnosis and the unseen therapy in highly negative terms: In consequence of this opinion of the nature and cause of the disease, the method of cure was to expel the vapour or spirit immediately . .
49 If anything, Floyer rated Chinese practice above that of the Galenic tradition. 50 Floyer tried to explain and synthesize the Chinese and western accounts; for example, he took the Chinese description of individual pulses as revealing the state of particular organs seriously, but not literally. 51 Floyer quoted from a translated Chinese medical text, the Nuy Kim, line by line, giving what he considered to be a mundane and down-to-earth paraphrase in western terms as he went along; thus `the eyes are the windows of the liver' was taken to mean simply that diseases of the liver presented symptoms in the eyes ± Floyer cited jaundice as an example here.
Acupuncture, Expertise and Cross-Cultural Medicine by Roberta E. Bivins (auth.)