The Power of Cough Syrup

How Suffering is Controlled and Regulated in a Rural Haitian Clinic

  • Michael Cole Grady University of Edinburgh
Keywords: Medicalization, Pain, Control, Power, Trust, Medicine


During my time working at a clinic in rural Haiti, I noticed one of the doctors was engaging in a rather odd practice: prescribing cough syrup at completely inappropriate times. I attempt to analyze such a practice, revealing how it can control how pain is experienced and expressed. I also discuss the histrionic nature of this practice and how it helps perpetuate trust when combined with other situational nuances. To conclude I discuss how it reflects medical humanitarianism on a global scale and the implications of power that come with it.

How to Cite
Grady, M. (2019). The Power of Cough Syrup. Re:Think - a Journal of Creative Ethnography, 2(1), 8-16. Retrieved from
Short Informal/Reflective Pieces