Medicine: Why Go to a Quack?

Most doctors scoff when patients turn to quacks or unorthodox practitioners. Instead of scoffing, Dr. Beatrix Cobb, research psychologist at Houston's M.D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute, determined to find out why patients do it. The people she questioned, reports Dr. Cobb in the current Psychiatric Bulletin, divided roughly into four groups:

1) Miracle seekers. Example: a Negro woman with cancer of the breast who covered herself with a "prayer cloth" each day for six months before seeking medical care. Now near death, she "believes that the failure of the prayer cloth was due to her sins." 2) The uninformed. One businessman...

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