In all honesty, I found it difficult to choose just one approach.  Although we haven’t actually studied them yet, they all have their own niches which make them important to the study of medical anthropology.  I wanted to choose several as the most important/useful/interesting. However as much as i liked the others, biological seemed the most obvious and/or simplistic choice, because it covers the body/genetics (most of ones health – diseases, etc. -stemming somehow from genetics), the environment (can have a profound effect on ones health & well being), as well as ones mind/life & the choices they make.

The distinction between disease & illness, although commonly interchanged or mixed up within society, is actually quite easy to determine, maybe even obvious.  Disease being the physical/biological dysfunction of the body; while Illness is ones perception of this, often the division or seperation from ‘normal’. As simple as this may seem, there is often a mix up, and sometimes even an actual overlap, causing confusion between the difference of the two.

I really enjoyed the article by Miner, I found it interesting and amusing to read such a description of our culture/society.  As far as when I knew what the culture was, I was suspicious earlier but was not positive until the sentence about Washington (or Notgnishaw) and the cherry tree.  It was a great way to display our culture, and our health care, using ethnography to show the absurdity of a society we concider normal. It was perfect. The “holy-mouth-men”, representing dentists, and the way society tends to feel about them as well as oral hygiene; the ‘latipso’ with its ceremonies, rituals, and gifts, representing hospitals and the healthcare system (great at showing classes/socioeconomic differences & treatment in system); the ‘listeners”, representing the therepists, psychologists, etc., and the stigma attached to them or being a patient of one; ‘medicine men’ obviously signifying doctors, and ‘herbalists’ as pharmacists; also the ‘shrine’ symbolizing the bathroom, ‘rites’ or ‘ceremonies’ preformed daily (or monthly in case of menstration), mixing of ‘holywater’ under the ‘charm-box’, and the privacy, even secrecy held with many ‘rituals’.

1 thought on “Biological

  1. I agree with you in that it was difficult to choose just one approach. That is why I chose the applied approach – it’s the approach that seems to take into account many other approaches as well, and then making an assessment based on all of the information. For example, it takes into account one’s environment, specifically their culture, which tends to help define a person and the choices they make. However, it’s like you said: not just one approach should be used. As much information and viewpoints as possible should be used to help make a decision on how to treat a patient.

    I also enjoyed how you showed that each of the Nacerima’s rituals are easily paralleled to our own culture and beliefs in medicine, even today despite the article being written over 50 years ago. It shows that we have not changed much overall in terms of western medicine – we still hold the same values that we used to. Sure the specifics have changed and become more advanced, and perhaps easier on the patient, but we are still utilizing our own way of treating patients. The article does a great job of showing how our own beliefs may be viewed from those in another culture, something that is difficult to do.

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