My definition of health is how well your body is functioning, and if it has anything adversely effecting it that makes it deviate from the norm, which would indicate a lack of health. My idea of illness is the what prevents you from fully functioning or what causes the problems. So the deciding factors on whether to include sadness as an illness was basically if occurred for a specific reason, or if it was a completely random and general feeling. The way I see it is that if you are sad for a specific reason such as a death in the family, then it is not a illness exactly, but a natural process that you must go through in order to cope. This would make it a healing mechanism. The other option is that it is a general feeling of depression, which is in my mind a different issue. This could be a symptom of a different problem, such as a chemical imbalance, or it could be your subconscious alerting you to the fact that you are not satisfied with your life. In this case I would say that it is in fact an illness.

These ideals mostly came from my family, and after that from society/culture. I believe that the largest influence in a persons life and ideals is from their family with the culture being the second most influential. Personal experience also plays a role in this, but most of the personal experience was in the context of family so it is drastically effected by how my family reacts.

I consider anxiety to be in a similar position as sadness in the context that it can be an illness if certain criteria are met, but otherwise it is just a natural response to external stimuli. I had a bit of trouble classifying menstruation, since as a male I have a bit more limited outlook on this, but in general I believe that it is not an illness, but is instead a natural biological function. Even being a biological function and serving a purpose, it still would need to be evaluated on a case by case basis to see how it effected the individual rather than just saying whether it is a illness or not. In my mind old age is most definitely not an illness. Although it has an adverse effect on your life, it is a natural part of life that all organisms must undergo and being old isn’t necessarily bad.

The Biological Approach

I believe that the biological approach is the most useful for studying health for several reasons. The main reason is that I feel it covers the main areas that effect ones health, their individual choices, the environment and their genetics. These three aspects are simple and fairly straight forward in that just about anyone will acknowledge that any one of the three will have an enormous impact on whether a person is healthy or not. Another reason that I support the use of this approach is because it does not rely on a culture. Any individual in any culture (or for that matter any individual removed from their specific culture) can become sick, and this approach utilizes the environment (which I believe to be the single greatest contributor to health) as one of its aspects. The final reason that I like this approach is because it emphasizes individuality. A person can be more susceptible to certain illnesses than another person because their genes are different or they went through different situations that weakened their ability to fight off diseases.

To me the distinction between disease and illness is that disease is the physical problem that is effecting a person, and it is uniform across cultures, where illness is the persons perception of their disease or sickness, which changes depending on what culture they may be a part of, or what their attitudes towards sickness are. The distinction seems to be fairly easy to understand, but I can definitely see how the two can be confused or used synonymously.

The Nacerima culture that Miner is talking about is American culture, and I recognized this immediately when I saw the spelling. The rituals that stuck out in the article were the decorating of the shrine room, the use of the charm chest and the mouth-rite. The decorating of the shrine room has more to do with cultural tendencies than health concerns, but it does show a distinction between the classes of the society, and that the better quality of the shrine room, marks a overall better quality of living, and most likely health as well. The other two rituals (the medicine cabinet and brushing your teeth) both show rituals that are believed to increase or sustain good health and that are held in such high esteem that they are frequently used.

Sittin’ Back, Getting Things Done

Hello! My name is Evan, and I am currently a senior at MSU. I’m majoring in criminal justice and hope to go to law school after this year.  For now I’m in Massachusetts with my family for the summer and can’t wait to get back to Michigan. The only Anthropology related class I’ve taken before is an introductory archeology class and I’m looking forward to seeing the medical side. In my spare time I mostly relax, hang out with friends and snowboard if possible. I am also a huge movie fan, so feel free to recommend any good ones.

The pic is from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, which is just about the best western movie ever made.