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What does it mean when a patient desires to be in control of an uncontrollable illness or an uncontrollable hospital situation? This paper explores the theme, desire for control, a theme emerging from a recent ethnographic study on the use of alternative health care in a hospital setting While it may be argued that choosing an alternative practice may be a patient's strategy to control a perceived uncontrollable situation, there are many other ways of looking at the control issue The data derived from the conceptual reality of the informants in this study are examined in the light of research and theories of perceived control, locus of control and illusion of control