Ethno-Medical Approach

I picked Ethno-medical because this is the field that I am most interested in. It covers the differences of cultures and look to see what and why they do things differently than the traditional Western culture. I find this interesting because I feel that it gives some sort of glimpse into what life in their shoes must be like.  I think that it is the approach that brings the others together because it covers a large variety: the behaviors, a look at the health care systems, types of healing, and etc. It is very well rounded.

Disease is actually having a ailment that can usually be defined by a medical dictionary. It is something that is real, and capable of being proven by some sort of test result. Illness on the other hand could possibly be a disease or  not. It is involved with the mental status of the individual. Sometimes this is based on what is happening around, ie. a news report is broadcasted warning about a flu outbreak. The individual will then take note of possible ‘symptoms’ and carry on from there decided that they do indeed have the disease (in this example the flu). Illness about include the feelings of sickness that one experiences when they actually have a disease which makes it difficult to tell the difference between the two. Personally sometimes I have a hard time distinguishing the two terms. They are linked to the same concept of being sick, and have definitions with fuzzy boundaries because one could occur with the other. (you could have a disease and an illness at the same time).

Upon my first read of this article I thought that Nacerima was the culture that the author was describing, and it wasn’t until the second read that I notice the comments such as market economy and the obsession with appearance that made me think of American culture. These are two things that we are known for worldwide. One of the rituals that I found to be very telling was the shrine box it contains objects that owner doesn’t really need but keeps anyway even after they lose their usefulness the item is keep in the box. I enjoy the way that Miner describes the “mouth-rite” ritual which is basically daily brushing of the teeth and mouth. this ritual shows that the “Nacerima” people find the mouth to be an important body part that aligns itself with the health the body as a whole. He also elevates the dentist to the level of a holy mouth man. The last ritual that I will talk about are visits to the doctors offices where they perform “ritual purification”. Miner says that the people find it so helpful that even one who can does the ritual. It shows that health is important and that also those that cannot afford it do not have the opportunity for purification, just like in the US.

1 thought on “Ethno-Medical Approach

  1. Hi Danuelle! I picked the biological approach because it encompasses a person’s genetic makeup, environment, and personal health choices as contributing factors to health. I found that each approach we discussed could be useful, as each has its own benefits and downsides. It was hard to pick a single approach as the best, because I feel that they interact with each other.

    I liked your discussion of the rituals in the Miner article! Even though it was written over 50 years ago, I feel that it is still generally applicable to our current health values and ideologies. The teeth brushing and cleaning ritual is still very relevant to current health values, as most of us brush our teeth everyday and visit a dentist or “holy mouth man” with some frequency. This shows that we still maintain the mouth as a very important factor in our health and try to keep it free of disease. You also talked about the “shrine box” in which people keep the charms and potions they have already used, and don’t dispose of them. I think this is also still relevant, because many of us keep old medications we didn’t use all of, even if we have no further use for them. We still feel the need to maintain these old medications in case of further illness, at least up until the expiration date!

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