Medicine aims to secure health and well-being, but what those consist in and how to achieve them are often disputed questions. Some societies have self-styled experts in the domain, others have none. But even in those that do, there are often rival groups offering alternative treatments and explanations. This chapter discusses shamanism and other modes of traditional healing, the various traditions of medicine in ancient Greece, China, and India, and aspects of modern biomedicine and psychiatry, to bring to light the ways in which different concepts of medicine are developed, and the roles that learned and often exclusive elites played in promulgating them.
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