"The Quest for Healing" focuses on the intersection between some chronically ill people in Norway and biomedical and alternative practitioners.
The scope of this thesis is to look closer at what happens in a person's life when he or she gets diagnosed with a chronic disease. One quality my informants have developed as a means to handle their lives, and regain some sense of control with an unpredictable sickness is an ability to act flexibly in various aspects of life. The argument proposes that flexibility as a more and more recognised societal value, also can be traced in the way sicknesses manifest themselves. The question this study raises however, is if the hegemonic healing alternative in Norway, biomedicine, is equipped to treat diseases that are manifested and experienced in such diverse ways. The main discussion evolves around how personal and individual illness experiences meet with, and are met by, a standardised biomedical approach to treatment.
Key concepts in much medical anthropological work are the distinctions between illness and disease and healing and curing. I lean on these concepts when I follow patients in their meetings mainly with biomedical doctors, but also alternative practitioners. The ability to treat on an individual base as opposed to a standardised approach is highly valued amongst the patients. Many patients experience that this ability is more profound amongst alternative practitioners. As such, a comparison between a biomedical approach to treatment and a homeopathic approach is crucial. It is crucial both because it highlights what patients I have spoken to find important in the therapeutic process as well as pinpointing some differences in the methodological foundations these two treatment alternatives rest on. I argue that these differences have important consequences for the treatment of chronically ill people. Where the total removal, curing, of the disease in question more or less is impossible, the empirical findings in this thesis suggest that a lot can still be done by professional health practitioners in order to meet the patients` worries and concerns about matters connected to their disease, but not directly related to it.