Moving lines and variable criteria: Differences/connections between allopathic and alternative medicine

Fred M. Frohock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The standard narratives of medicine recognize its origins in natural cures and in religious or spiritual discourses. The uneasy relationships of such practices (now designated as complementary or alternative medicine [CAM]) to conventional health care today can be tracked to the formation of medicine as a distinct profession based on modern science. The author accepts four statements as a framework for exploring CAM in the context of modern medicine. The first is that all versions of unconventional medicine depend for their identity on the existence of conventional medicine. The second is that the distinctions between alternative and conventional medicine are variables of time, place, and the attitudes of health care practitioners. Third, CAM today in the West occupies no sharp and distinctive category. There are instead continuums of various slopes and lengths on which types of complementary and alternative medicine are arrayed. Fourth, the turn to CAM may represent a chronic (and, to some, welcome) inclination of the human intellect to delimit the energies of material inquiries with metaphysical baselines and options.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)214-232
Number of pages19
JournalAnnals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Issue numberSEPT.
StatePublished - Sep 1 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)


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