Biological Approach

I think that the Biological Approach will be the most useful to me in studying health. I feel that the Biological approach covers many factors that can influence an individual, such as their environment, their genetics, and even personal choices that they make. I believe that these three factors are very important to an individual’s health, and it is for this reason that I believe the Biological Approach will be the most useful. I do not believe that the other approaches will not be useful, just that the Biological Approach will be the most useful.

I do not believe there is a distinction between disease and illness. I believe that the difference is effectively a matter of semantics, since there is not a universally accepted definition for the difference between the two. If I had to make a distinction, I would say that illness refers to the patient’s perception of his or her disease, or that illness refers more to the symptoms and visible effects of the disease, while the term disease refers more to the overall condition.

I believe that Miner is talking about American culture in the Nacirema article. I first came to suspect this when it was mentioned that their folk hero chopped down a cherry tree. I was much surer of this after reading the third paragraph, which mentions that the Nacirema have a highly developed market economy and engage in many ritual activities.

The three rituals I decided to talk about from the article are the box of charms and potions acquired from medicine men, the holy-mouth-men, and the latipso. The box of charms and the medicine men that provide them represent prescription medicine in our health care system. In our health care system, one must pay for a doctor’s visit (whether through insurance or out of pocket) to receive a prescription, and then pay for the prescription as well. In the Nacerima culture, the prospective patient must give a gift to both the medicine man and the herbalist. Our system does not always do a good job of keeping the patient informed of decisions, and this is represented by the Nacerima’s people fear to use medicine on their own owing to the fact that they cannot remember what they are used for. The Holy-Mouth-Men clearly represent dentists. In the Nacerima article, the natives willingly visit a holy-mouth-man once or twice a year despite the pain it puts them through, believing that the holy-mouth-man can prevent tooth decay. While the article heavily satirizes the effectiveness of dentists, it is true that few people enjoy visiting the dentist but go anyway because they believe that it will keep their teeth health. The final ritual I will talk about is the latipso. This represents a hospital. What stuck out for me was the mention that the treatments are incredibly harsh, and that it is considered a place where people go to die by the uninitiated. This is clearly a reference to heroic medicine and the harsh treatments of old that were the norm for the majority of medical history, and to the fact that for the majority of the existence of medicine it did not really help people in any appreciable way.

Spirit Possession

I would define health as a state of well-being, where one is both physically and mentally well. I believe that if someone is physically well and feels well, then they are in a state of health. If one or both of these conditions is not met, then the individual is ill. I would then define illness as a disturbance in an individual’s health that has a negative impact on their physical or mental well-being. I think that these ideas came from the media and from school. When I think of the ways that health and illness are described by the media, anything that significantly perturbs an individual’s health is considered to be an illness. The Biology classes that I have taken have focused more on infectious agents and how they can affect an individual, and infectious agents fit well with the idea that an illness is a disturbance in an individual’s health considering that bacteria and viruses can often cause quite a disturbance in their host.

The three conditions I decided to talk about are Old Age, Insomnia, and Spirit Possession. I believe that Old Age is not an illness, just a normal stage of life. One could argue that as someone ages they are no longer physically well and therefore ill, but I believe that Old Age is an exception to my definition of health. Even though an individual’s physical and mental condition deteriorates with age, Old Age is effectively unavoidable and it is for this reason that I do not consider it to be an illness.  For Insomnia, I believe that it is an illness when it occurs with a high frequency. I do not consider one or two sleepless nights a month to be indicative of an illness, but I believe that chronic insomnia is an illness, due to the severe impact it can have on an individual’s health. Spirit Possession was the hardest for me to categorize because while I do not believe in the existence of spirits, an individual who claims to be possessed by a spirit is probably ill with some sort of mental condition, provided that they are not simply lying about their condition for whatever reason.

LB Biochemistry Major

Hi all, my name is Chris Thorburn. I’m a second year Lyman Briggs Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Honors student from Marquette, Michigan. I’m considering either going to Medical School in the hopes of becoming a Radiologist or to graduate school for Chemistry.

I’m spending my summer taking classes here at MSU and working in the lab 40 hours a week as the lead undergraduate on two on-going genetics projects over in the Plant Biology department, where I spend most of my time collecting phenotyping and genotyping data or tending to the plants we grow.

This is the first Anthropology class I have taken, and while I did not have a specific reason for deciding to take it when I signed up, it became much more relevant after my long-time girlfriend was hospitalized for two weeks last fall with a bilateral pulmonary embolism. As we later learned she has a genetic blood clotting disorder that will have to be monitored for the rest of her life.

I don’t really know anything about the field of Anthropology, but I’m interested to see how this class turns out.