Transforming Emotions with Chinese Medicine

An Ethnographic Account from Contemporary China

By Yanhua Zhang

Subjects: Psychology
Series: SUNY series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture
Paperback : 9780791470008, 205 pages, March 2007
Hardcover : 9780791469996, 205 pages, March 2007

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Table of contents

1. Introduction
2. Chinese Medicine: Continuity and Modern Transformations
3. The Chinese World of Shenti (Body-Person)
4. Contextualizing Qingzhi (Emotions)
5. Understanding zhongyi Clinical Classification
6. Manifestations of yu (Stagnations)
7. Clinical Process of tiao (Attuning)
8. Conclusion
Appendix: Transcription Conventions

Explores how Chinese medicine deals with emotional disorders.


Chinese medicine approaches emotions and emotional disorders differently than the Western biomedical model. Transforming Emotions with Chinese Medicine offers an ethnographic account of emotion-related disorders as they are conceived, talked about, experienced, and treated in clinics of Chinese medicine in contemporary China. While Chinese medicine (zhongyi) has been predominantly categorized as herbal therapy that treats physical disorders, it is also well known that Chinese patients routinely go to zhongyi clinics for treatment of illness that might be diagnosed as psychological or emotional in the West. Through participant observation, interviews, case studies, and zhongyi publications, both classic and modern, the author explores the Chinese notion of "body-person," unravels cultural constructions of emotion, and examines the way Chinese medicine manipulates body-mind connections.

Yanhua Zhang is Associate Professor of Chinese at Clemson University.


"…a comprehensive account of the Chinese medicine physician's practice of mental care. " — Asian Anthropology

"…carefully prepares the reader for the ethnographic encounter with an excellent introduction to the history and contemporary practice of Chinese medicine that draws on current textbooks, classics of Chinese medicine, the author's own fieldwork and secondary literature … this exquisitely crafted book sets a new standard in the anthropology of Chinese medicine. " — Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society

"The author has covered an amazing range of complex ideas in a reader-friendly format, increasing our understanding of both Chinese and conventional Western models. I know of no other book within the English language literature that accurately and comprehensively addresses traditional Chinese ideas of health psychology. " — Paul Pedersen, University of Hawaii