I believe that the biological approach of anthropology will be the most beneficial to me in studying health. I believe in this approach the most because I am a human biology major and it just makes sense with how history has gone! The biological approach covers topic such as natural selection and variation between individuals such as how they respond to disease and illness.
I used to believe illness and disease were interchangeable words but I now know that illness is an individual’s response to a disease, while a disease is something that actually altars the person’s well being physically. It can be a foreign pathogen that invaded your body and causes such symptoms as pain or a fever. Illness varies from person/culture as it is dependent on on such things as how severely an illness is taken in his/her’s respective community and his/her’s own tolerance/reaction to pain. If someone seeks out profession help for an aliment they do not possess, they are ill but not diseased. If they are physically sick but will deny it and not ask for help, they are diseased but not ill.
From reading about the “PO-TA-MAC” river, and being between the Canadian Cree and Tarahumare of Mexico I can determine that the Nacirema people live in the northeast United States.
While reading this article, the first ritual that stood out to me was their interactions with “the holy-mouth-men”. These people seems to essentially be dentists. The Nacirema people make a trip to visit these men at least once or twice a year where it seems that they look for cavities, then if they spot any, they enlarge it and fill it with a material much like our dentists do. This shows that although as less educated and civilized as us, they still put a large priority on their teeth and general mouth cleanliness.
A more disturbing ritual in this article is the visits to the latipso, or medicine men temple. When people are very ill they journey to this house where they must first make a rich donation and then are subjected to basically torture where many people die anyways. Although many people die here, the Nacirema people still eagerly continue to go. The holy-mouth-men check on your teeth and fill cavities, medicine men give you what are supposedly herbs to heal you and stab you with healing needles, and then they send in a “listener” which seems to be a psychologist to me, as the patients uncover traumatic episodes from their childhood. While the Nacirema people seem to have the same ideas of health professionals as us, they are a bit more twisted and uneducated, but I suppose they are on the right track.