Old Age


Health, in my own words, could be defined as not being ill, sick, or having a disease. Illness, on the other hand, I would define as being sick, or in other terms, not healthy. Illness can describe an actual condition a person may have, or just the mental state of not feeling well. I think these ideas came from a combination of multiple sources including family, culture (society), media, school, etc. One of the most important influences on these ideas I would say is society, because society teaches us certain ways to think about and deal with our health and illnesses and each society deals with these things differently.

One of most difficult conditions to place in a category, for me atleast, was old age. After contemplating whether old age would be an illness or not, I decided that it is, indeed, not an illness. Although there can be many illnesses associated with old age, old age itself is not always something that affects health. Aging is a natural process that every person must go through, and although illness may come with getting older, it does not necessarily always bring on illness.

Three other conditions from the list include migraines, cancer, and HIV. All three of these I would consider an illness. Migraines are something that I personally suffer from, and something that has greatly affected my life in a negative way. Most migraines are caused by imbalances, or nerve interactions, in the brain, and can be very painful. Continuing on, I do not think that anyone would not consider cancer an illness. Cancer has many side effects that cause illness in many people all over the world, and has a great emotional toll. Finally is HIV. HIV is a virus that can be transmitted person to person, and has a large effect on the immune system of its host. Overall, all three of these conditions can have a great effect on the mental, physical, and social stand point of their victims which is why I consider them illnesses.

Biological Approach

I believe that the biological approach would be the most useful to me for studying health. I chose this approach because as a pre- med student, biology is something that I have grown to have an understanding of, and a topic that is very interesting to me. The lecture tells us that this approach involves things such as “human genetic variations” and “how individuals/ populations react to certain environmental stressors, such as disease.” Human genetic variations, and genetics in general, are, in fact, the cause of many diseases, and are very important for understanding how and why certain diseases occur. Other diseases can be controlled, and maybe even reduced, by how people react to the disease, or stressor. I am a firm believer in preventative medicine and believe that some diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, are very much avoidable with an understanding of the human body and how it works.

The distinction between a disease and an illness is that a disease is a physical change in a person’s body that can be described by an actual clinical condition or infection. An illness, on the other hand, is a certain individual’s experience and/ or perception of their change in health. Before listening to the lecture, I was not aware that there was a distinction between the two, but now it is obvious.

The culture that Miner is talking about in the “Nacerima” article is Americans. I realized this when I tried to pronounce the name “Notgnishaw,” and realized that it was “Washington” spelled backwards. This then led me to realize that “Nacerima” was “America” spelled backwards and the rest of the article then clicked.

There were many rituals described in the “Nacerima” article. One that caught my attention was when the article said, “the people seek out a holy- mouth- man once or twice a year.” This, of course, is referring to going to the dentist, which for most Americans is very important from a health view point and a social viewpoint (disease and aesthetics). Another ritual described in the article was the situation where, “the patient tells the “listener” all his troubles and fears, beginning with the earliest difficulties he can remember.” Many Americans go to a therapist (psychiatrist, psychologist, counselor, etc) in order to improve their mental health. Some people may even rely on discussing of their problems with a therapist as a way to deal with them. A final ritual is the visiting of a temple called a “latipso” where the “Nacerima” go to receive treatment from medicine men. The term “latipso” refers to hospitals and medicine- men obviously refers to doctors. Hospitals and doctors are what, I believe, basically every American relies on when they are in need of treatment. American culture highly values and trusts the advice and opinions that doctors give us regarding medicine and health.


World Traveler

My name is Kirstina Magyari, or Kirstie for short, and I am currently a Junior at MSU majoring in Human Development and Family Studies, with pre- medical course work. My goals for the future include attending medical school and becoming a pediatrician. Some things I enjoy are traveling to places all over the world and spending time with my friends and family. A few places I have traveled to include Spain, France, Jamaica, the Bahamas, and Mexico.

Thus far, I do not have any experience in anthropology, but as someone pursuing a medical degree, it is something that I am very interested in. I look forward to learning about human life in an anthropological way, especially with a medical perspective.

This picture was taken in Toledo, Spain. (I am on the left). I chose this picture because I am doing something that I love, traveling. Seeing how amazing and diverse the world is is something that I have a great passion for, and something I hope to continue doing my whole life.