Visit for more related articles at Alternative & Integrative Medicine
Acupuncture therapy encompasses various domains of experience: from the aesthetics and atmosphere of the clinic; to the sensorial aspects of needling; to the aftereffects in terms of potential changes in health and lifestyle. In my research (conducted in Galway and Dublin Ireland) one of the prevailing reasons expressed by patients as to the appeal of acupuncture, and rationale for its continual use, was that treatments were regarded as both pleasurable and transformative. This transformation–in either an immediate-sensorial, or a long-term behavioral way–is the key focus of this paper. Interviews with patients strongly suggested that an embodied sense of transformation– experiencing unusual bodily and emotional sensations–is not only part of the appeal, but is one of the key constructs for determining the medical efficacy of acupuncture. Such embodied transformations are referred to as altered states of embodiment (ASE).