Famine in Somalia

In the country of Somalia more than  29,000 children have died last year in 2011. These children deaths were due to malnutrition and a drought according to the news article by Tammie Fields. Children who were under the age of five years old were mostly the targeted group who died. I am not surprised that the famine and drought outbreak mostly affected young children under the age of five because young children have very weak and unstable immune systems. This makes it really hard for young children and babies to fight off diseases and infections without having the proper nutrients. The famine and drought outbreak in Somalia took a harmful and deadly toll on the young children and this outbreak took the lives of many young children. Since Somalia is an extremely poor third world country. They have very limited and little access to medical and food resources. Somalia in essence has no industry and no agricultural system in their country and this makes the production of food hard to come by. Thus, this results in the malnutrition, famine outbreaks and the death of young children n their country.

Politically, there is no law of rule that exists within their country. There also no type of democratic government system that exists for the people. America helps aids Somalia by providing resources that feed, medicate, and help the people of Somalia survive in their country. Since Somalia has no working government or legal system it becomes very dangerous to ship food and resources over to their country because gunfights, face bandits, and militiamen try to rob and kill people to steal their resources. An anthropologists working in this area that was mentioned in the news article “29,000 children dead from famine in Somalia” by Tammie Fields, was named Professor David Himmelgreen. Anthropologist Himmelgreen is a professor at the department of Anthropology at the University of South Florida. Himmelgreen research consists of extensive research in African food production, disease, and nutrition.


Fields, Tammie. “29,000 Children Dead from Famine in Somalia.” Wtsp.com. N.p., 6 Aug. 2011. Web. 10 Aug. 2012. http://www.wtsp.com/news/national/article/204731/81/29000-children-dead-from-famine-in-Somalia


Clinical Medical Anthropology

According to lecture video on “Applied Medical Anthropology” clinical anthropologists work with medical professionals and patients in clinical settings on ways to improve healthcare and management. Just like in global health arena these anthropologists apply the same theoretical and methodological training to address barriers to health. One of the primary goals of clinical anthropologists is to emphasize the cultural context of an illness experience. This especially important when clinicians are treating patients from other cultures who understand health through different ethnomedical systems and explanatory models.Anthropologists are important because according to the lecture video “Applied Medical Anthropology, they “recognize that neither of the clinician nor the patient is a blank slate and that the only way to come up with a workable treatment program is to consider the complete cultural, biological, psychological and social circumstances.” In essence I  would say that this a more affective approach because the treatment program considers a persons biological, cultural, psychological and social factors in creating a workable treatmentl. All these factors are important in creating a treatment for a person because they act as a cultural mediator to develop the best possible strategies to achieve health for individual patients

I picked this intersection because I believe clinical medical anthropology is essential and important in treating patients more affectively by providing a recovery plan that reflects their cultural and social needs. Medical clinicians are essential because they provide a link and communication between the patient and the medical world. According to the article Anthropology in the Clinic: The Problem of Cultural Competency and How to Fix It, “clinicians are grounded in the world of the patient, in their own personal network, and in the professional world of biomedicine and institutions. Clinicians serve as social and cultural links that connect the patients to the social world of the medical field. If I was working with a provider in the area of clinical medical anthropology who is not an anthropologists I would explain to the provider that taking an anthropological approach is useful in this particular area because “culture factors are crucial to diagnosis, treatment, and care”(Kleinman & Benson 1673). These factors help shape beliefs, values, and behaviors that reflects a patients culture. This is invaluable because it allows the clinicians to understand and formulate a treatment that will help their patient recover base on their cultural needs. Clinical medical anthropologist are for the patients and the serve as communicators for their patients to the medical world.





Kleinman and Benson – Anthropology and the Clinic


Lecture: 6.1- “Applied Medical Anthropology”


I believe obesity is bio-medicalized in the U.S. because the condition of obesity affects many American families at alarming statistic in our culture. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2005 to 2008 “over one-third of the adult population of the United States is considered obese. This statistic is overwhelming especially when you factor in that an additional third of the population is classified as being overweight. Some people believe that obesity is also an epidemic in our society. Some of the cultural factors that need to be taken into account of why obesity is an epidemic in American culture is that Americans make and have access to poor eating choices. In our society Americans ‘live a life of convenience and instant gratification”. We do not have to hunt for our food and we can anything we want and when we want it in large consumption as well. Over-processed and fast foods are usually chosen by Americans than healthy and whole foods. Although these foods may save time and are cheaper in the long run they can lead to obesity if too much is consumed daily. Also, many Americans do not get enough of physical activity and to much time is spent on the internet and computer or mobil games. Americans drive instead of walk or run. Our society promotes a more sedentary lifestyle.

Obesity and being overweight are associated with many other health problems for an individual and this has a significant impact on the U.S. health care system according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The medical cost of obesity and being overweight involve indirect and direct costs. According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, the medical care costs of obesity in the United States are overwhelming high and in 2008 the cost of obesity has totaled approximately $147 billion dollars. This is quite surprising to me and I really did not believe that the cost of obesity could be so high. Today I would imagine that this estimated cost is higher or close to this amount.

Link to Advertisement for a medication that treats Obesity:



  1. NIH, NHLBI Obesity Education Initiative. Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults. Available online: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/ob_gdlns.pdf icon_pdf.gificon_out.png [PDF-1.25Mb]
  2. http://www.livestrong.com/article/350157-why-obesity-is-a-problem-in-america/
  3. CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention): http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/adult/causes/


The culture of biomedicine is important because it explains health in terms of biology. It emphasis the importance of learning about body structure or anatomy It involves the study of body systems and physiology. It focuses on biology and the body in order to treat diseases and maintain health. Biomedicine is also important because according to the “Claim of Universality” biomedicine is a direct reflection of nature and is a representation of a universal truth.

I chose to focus my post of the dichotomy of life and death. I find this dichotomy to be most interesting and complex at the same time. Within western culture there appears to be no in between, a person is either. However, I find it interesting that western society tries to classify every aspect of being dead or alive. For example, when someone is in a coma some people believe the person is in this deep sleep they may never wake up even though their heart is still bringing. Some people people even feel that patients that are in comas are declared dead all ready because they cannot bring on their on and they are hooked up to a machine or they may be brain dead.

In our society  some people associate healthy and functional brain activity with being alive and not dead. However, I do not believe that just because a person can not function normally in our society or is in a coma that makes them dead. There is still a chance that the person may wake up out of the coma. People who have autism and who are handicap do not function like normal people. They require special needs and attention to survive in the world and to live. They may have limited brain activity and not much control over there actions, but they are still living people. Some people look at handicap people and say they cannot imagine being able to live their life like that. Life is what you make it given your situation. There are people in the world that live with brain disorders, half a brain, and brain damage but they are still living life the best way they can for themselves.

Living life means more than just having a brain. I think in our society we have to take in question what does it mean to be really alive. In the medical community and in western culture there is a constant emphasis on the brain a s the root to the entire function of the body. It seems like the medical field has created mostly everything to increase and promote ones chances of living a healthy life. We have blood transfusions, artificial hearts that people can get today. However, when it comes to  brain transplants there is no such thing. When a person is brain dead in our society that is usually the end of the line of their life and at this point nothing else can be done for them. The dichotomy of life and death is accepted as logical and natural in western society because there are clear distinctions of what being alive and dead means. Death is accepted in western culture because it is a part a life that everyone will go through and experience.


According to the medical journal article Bipolar disorder: historic perspective, current pharmacologic treatment options and review of Quetiapine by Khouzam and Singh, bipolar disorder is classified as a mental illness. The authors stated that bipolar disorder “is a common, chronic and recurrent mental illness associated with an increased rate of comorbid psychiatric and medical conditions”(Khouzam & Singh 132). The article explained that there are different subtypes of bipolar disorder. They include, the DSM-IV-TR categories of bipolar I disorder, bipolar II and cyclothymic disorder(Khouzam & Singh 132). If a person has bipolar I they experience symptoms of episodes that involve “severe mania and major depression”((Khouzam & Singh 132). When it comes to bipolar II disorder an individual can have multiple hypomanic episodes and depressive episodes as well. A person who has cyclothymic disorder has continuous hypomanic episodes and depressive symptoms that last two years or more.  What I found interesting about the disease is that a person’s family biological makeup is a significant factor and influence on whether they have bipolar disease.

When it comes to society and culture bipolar disorder has a social stigma attached to it and society can be very stereotypical towards individuals who have bipolar disorder. Television shows and many dramatic works create characters that have traits of bipolar disorder. Hollywood paints this picture of hyper compulsive, violent and crazed individual. When it comes to treatment my research concluded that in some cases people are often misdiagnosed for bipolar disorder and that people she be treated or diagnosed early on so that they can be properly treated for bipolar disorder. I believe that belief is essential to the healing process. When a patient comes to the realization and truth about their illness they can take the necessary steps in recovering and healing their bodies. Sometimes when people do not believe or think their illness is serious this can lead to negative conseqences. Belief is important because a patient is no longer in denial about their illness. In the film “Placebo: Cracking the Code” it shows a positive outlook and process when using a placebo. I do believe placebos are affected because and are essential to the healing process because it gives patients a new hope and way to aid in the recovery of their disease.



Khouzam, Hani Raoul, Singh, Fiza. Bipolar disorder: historic perspective, current pharmacologic treatment options and a review of Quetiapine. Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics 6.2. (Feb 2006) : 131-44.

Proquest link-http://search.proquest.com.proxy1.cl.msu.edu/docview/889788232/fulltextPDF/13830E7930C722065C3/14?accountid=12598

*Hello Taz, this is Monique Carter. The website was down tonight around 10pm to after 11pm. I emailed my Reflection post before 12 midnight and I am posting it since the website is up again. Thanks!


“I Have Schizophrenia”

This “True Life” episode was about three individuals who all suffered from Schizophrenia. Amber, Ben, and Josh all have Schizophrenia and they deal with their illness in different ways. Josh’s narrative is a chaos narrative.  Josh chooses to self medicate himself with marijuana and he does not take any medications or see any psychiatrist.  His mother thinks that it would be in his best interest to get professional medical help and treatment. From lecture on narratives types it stated that in the chaos narrative people suffer socially. Socially, Josh has communication problems especially when it comes to his mother and he feels a strong social connection to only birds and animals. Josh’s is deteriorating and he is headed in a path of self destruction

Amber is a college student and her narrative reflects a quest narrative. Amber narrative is a quest narrative because her story in dealing with her illness depicts a journey of self improvement and achievement. Although Amber failed all her classes her freshman year and was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia she did not let that stop her from achieving her goals.  She sees a psychiatrist on a regular basis and she takes her prescribed medication when she is suppose to. One of the milestones she reached was speaking in front of a large group of medical professionals about her illness. This was significant for Amber because she has high anxiety and stress when it comes to public speaking. Ben narrative is a quest narrative. He took his medication consistently. To face his anxiety and illness he tries to go out twice a week to large public settings because he fears that someone is out to get him when he is large public settings. He continued to make great strides with his illness throughout the episode and is now taking a college course. Both Amber and Ben had the continuous support of their family and their family were active in their life to their role of recovery.

This narrative shows the obstacles that people with schizophrenia face on a day to day basis. The episode showed ways to deal with this illness from a medical standpoint by using medication and seeing a psychiatrist. It showed the negative side that people choose to treat their illness by smoking weed to self medicate. Marijuana is not a successful way to medicate yourself when you have schizophrenia and it can make our illness worse. The experiences with the medical professionals that Amber had proved to be more positive because in helping her improve her health. I believe Ben will continue to flourish as well if he keeps seeing or increase his visits to the psychiatrist. Illness narratives are useful to patients and families because it gives the public and the medical world an understanding of what this person experiences mentally and physically daily according to the Illness Narratives lecture. Schizophrenia is stigmatized and other illnesses as well. Some people feel like people who have mental disorders should just be put in a mental institution and they should be heavily sedated on medical drugs all the time. Society as a whole needs to be more understanding of people who suffer from mental illness.


Latah in Southeast Asia: Malayan Culture

Latah has been described as a culture-bound syndrome. This condition originated from Southeast Asia and it can occur by the startle reflex. A startle reflex can last up to 30 minutes. This outburst can consists of screaming, dancing, and a person laughing hysterically. According to the Malayan culture the term Latah comes from the root word “lata” and this means “fool” or “defect” (Winzeler). Some symptoms according to Winzeler include a person moving violently, crying uncontrollably, and shouting out sexual or vulgar language. A person can also engage in the imitation of others or things and have the same speech and movement over and over again. Latah syndrome occurs within the Malayan and Javanese cultures. What I found interesting about Latah is that when a person who has Latah is startled they usually imitate the behavior or obey the commands of the person that is around them or trying to get their attention. Most cases of Latah occur intentionally to amuse onlookers and to draw attention to the person who has Latah. It seems like Latah is somewhat gendered based after reading the article because it mentioned that middle-aged women usually get Latah. Winzeler also mentions that Latah can occur in individuals for a number of reasons. Death of a love one or a child and very traumatic experiences can be the reason Latah occurs in individuals.

It almost seems like individuals who struggle in controlling their emotions and behavior suffer from Latah. And since they cannot properly cope or deal with life struggles they act out and have these continued outburst. There appears to be a little controversy when it comes to Latah being identified as an actual illness because there is a lack of individuals who experience and report this syndrome. There are rarely no individuals who actually seek treatment and help for Latah. Also, I find it interesting that there have been no reports on traditional remedies for Latah. Perhaps, Malayan people and their culture do not classify or view Latah as a mental illness. Western culture once again tries to classify Latah as a disease or mental illness and this may not be the case within the Malayan culture.



Robert Winzeler. The Study of Malayan Latah. Indonesia, No. 37 (Apr., 1984), pp. 77-104 Published by: Southeast Asia Program Publications at Cornell University Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3350936 . Accessed: 20/07/2012



A Shaman for the Soul

Brown’s article titled “A Doctor for Disease, a Shaman for the Soul” is the article that I chose to summarize. This article is about the Hmong holistic culture and it shows how they treat illness at the Mercy Medical Center in Merced, California. The article focuses on Va Meng Lee and he is a Hmong Shaman at the Mercy Medical Center. The Hmong holistic program at the Mercy Medical Center is especially important to the Hmong because many of them swear by and believe in their spiritual beliefs to help them recover from their illness.

The Hmong Shaman are the healers in this article. The Hmong Shaman social status appears to be significant within the Hmong culture. The Hmong Shaman social status is equal to that of a doctor in our culture and in some aspects exceeds the role and power of the doctor in our culture. The Hmong people have a very high respect for the Hmong Shaman because they are considered the “traditional healers” of the Hmong culture (Brown 2009). Hmong people believe that the only way they can be healed is by Hmong Shaman and modern medicine and practice is considered taboo to their culture. As far as techniques, in the article when Mr. Lee was treating a patient his main objective in treating his sick patients is to summon the patient’s “runaway soul” (Brown 2009). When it comes to interaction between Hmong Shaman and their patients there is a very personal and social trust that exists between the patient and the Shaman. The interaction between the patient and the Shaman resembles a call and response holistic practice in which the Shaman uses certain techniques to summon the patient’s soul. The interaction is a very spiritual and there is a direct approach when Hmong Shaman interacts with their patients. The Hmong Shaman summons the patient’s soul by using the technique of “soul calling” and by using their voice to chant softly to their patient (Brown 2009).

The sector and culture that the Hmong Shaman operates in is the Folk sector. The folk sector represents the Shamans because they take a holistic approach and they believe in spirits. They also believe that the shaman is scared. Hospitals like Mercy are creating Shaman training programs. It seems like healthcare in this system is delivered in the traditional and domestic sense. Hmong Shaman do not accept any form of money or insurance from their patient. However, I find it very interesting and unusual that in the past they have accepted a chicken that was still alive. Perhaps, the Shaman accepted the live chicken to use it as a future sacrifice since they use live animal like pigs and chickens to ward and transfer evil spirits and illness from the patient to the animal. Thanks to Mercy’s new Hmong Shaman policy the Shaman are able to practice at least 9 ceremonies that were approved by the hospital. The body and symptoms are understood and treated in this culture by the Shaman placing a main focus on the soul of an individual. For the Hmong the soul is the root and main source in treating and restoring health to an individual. In the article it stated, “the soul is the shaman’s responsibility.” The Shamans believe that through the soul they can ward off evil spirits and treat a patient’s illness more effectively than modern medicine. This statement means that the Hmong people do not trust or believe in any type of healing accept for the Shaman’s treatment.



Brown, Patricia Leigh. “A Doctor for Disease, a Shaman for the Soul” New York Times. Sept. 2009




Ecological Approach

Out of the six approaches the one that I think will be most useful to me in studying health is the ecological approach. The ecological approach is important because it is a branch of biology that deals with the relationship between an organism and their physical environment.  People are basically a product of the environment. Humans have the ability to contract and spread diseases within their environment. Our society also plays a role in pollution and people make unhealthy eating choices as well. When it comes to pollution in our society this has a negative impact on people and our environment because it can open the door to new diseases that did not exist before. According to the video the ecological approach is based on the relationship between organisms and their total environment.

It is through their relationship that our society can understand how diseases develop and spread through a population. The goal of any eco-system is to maintain balance. Balance is symbolic in a sense because in life people strive to have balance to live a healthy and successful lifestyle. In turn if humans do not take care their environment then it will have a negative impact on their health. We need to continue to replenish and invest in our environment instead of depleting our natural resources and polluting our environment with waste. I picked this approach because the ecological approach can help us increase our awareness about our environment. The ecological approach can also help us improve our environment, our natural resources like water and the air we breathe. As a result this positively impact human health by improving the environment we live. There is a direct correlation between a person and their physical environment.

I do not believe there is legitimate distinction between disease and illness. They are both intertwined and mean the same thing. In our society illness is classified as a disease and in some cases this term is used interchangeably with disease to describe different health conditions. When it comes to disease in our society it usually represents the overall alignment or disorder that the person is experiencing. But, this could be said for illness as well. I believe there is no real distinction between disease and illness and it is not obvious to me because their meanings are closely related. What Miner is talking about in the Nacerima article is about American culture and our health wellness concepts that we use. I realized this in the second paragraph Miner stated that “the chopping down of a cherry tree in which the Spirit of Truth resided”. This statement showed how our society relies on our natural resources and spiritual practices to promote good health in our society. Miner’s statement brings back the ecological approach and shows us how people are a product of their environment and use their physical environment like chopping down a tree to better their health.


Old Age

The condition that was most difficult to put into either category as being an illness or not being an illness was old age. I do not believe old age is an illness in itself. I chose to focus on menstruation, insomina, and old age. When it comes to menstruation as a woman I would say that menstruation is an illness. I personally experience very intense menstruation cramps and it gets to the point where I cannot consume food because my pain is so intense that I cannot keep any food down without taking my medication to avoid pain and vomiting. When it comes to old age it is a natural part of life that every will face. Old age is like a right of passage that people experience in life and can be seen as an illness in a sense because it leads to the deteriorating of a person’ physical and mental health. Experiencing old age is a part of life and an illness.

I do not believe insomnia is an illness because it can be properly treated and avoided and there is no direct physical pain that a person can experience if they miss a few nights of sleep. When it comes to defining health I believe health is the physical and mental well being of a person. Illness is the sickly alignment or condition that the person is in. The deciding factors depend on the physical and mental symptoms that the person is experiencing. Biologically, genes and the person’s physical environment pay a significant impact on the person’s health. I think these ideas came from society through the family and they have been passed on from generation to generation. However, I do believe that today the media plays a major role in promoting certain health concepts and ideas with advertisements and commercials. Old age is not really an illness in itself. However, it can in turn lead to health problems over time but that can also be the result of what your body was experiencing during the early and middle stages of your life.