Ethnomedical Approach

If I were studying health I believe the Ethnomedical approach would be very insightful. How patients perceive their illness based on their experience is just as important as the ailment itself. These relationships embedded in the model are analyzed to see how people assess their own sickness and seek out treatment. Often times this approach analyzes nontraditional treatments such as acupuncture, massage or herbs. The reasoning behind why a patient will seek these out is important; patients may appear to get better based on the placebo effect. Understanding the ailment is one task of a physician, getting the patient to believe in the treatment and follow through is the other. If a clinician can accept the beliefs of the patient, such that it is no harm is resulting the patient may be more receptive to a drug or surgery that could be lifesaving. A patient knows how they react to certain situations and know their entire history even if they don’t know how to properly communicate it. I believe that as long as people feel respected they will be more open to treatment.

Disease encompasses the symptoms and how a patient presents when they enter the physician’s office. An illness involves the sickness more broadly and how the patient themselves interpret it based on social and cultural contexts. I think in some instances it is more obvious but other it can be difficult to tell the difference between them. I believe that it is difficult because society uses these terms synonymous so we never truly decipher their differences.

Miner article about the Nacerima culture is about the American society. In the opening paragraphs in which reference was made to the creation of the nation through a chopped cherry tree and societal structure that places high emphasis on appearance were my first indications. Upon completion of the article I was confident in its description of American society when Miner described the general dissatisfaction with breast size and shape. He describes the emphasis on appearance and getting prepared for the day as a ritualistic activity that takes up a vast majority of the day. Specifically the mouth rite ritual described as placing hog hairs into the mouth with varying gestures refers to brushing and flossing your teeth to keep a clean mouth and preventing gum disease. Another ritual described in the article is the holy-mouth-man which performs an almost tortuous exorcism with sharp objects. This in fact is referencing the annual visit to the dentist. This article in its satirical nature describes the emphasis placed on oral hygiene and its relationship to beauty and societal acceptance.


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