Ethnomedical approach

I chose the ethnomedical approach as the most fitting for me in studying medicine for a number of reasons.  I desire to work in underserved areas in which there may be a great difference between what I perceive health to be and what such communities perceive health to be, and variations between the approach taken to deal with these perception.  With different cultures having differences in health models, I feel it is important to approach all situations with that in mind.  Although something may seem completely irrational to me, it may make perfect sense a patient, and it will be important for me to have already made this realization in order to provide the best care possible for whatever the situation may be.

I feel as though the distinction between disease and illness is difficult to make, but makes sense after this is accomplished.  I think it is difficult to make in that initial thought provokes the two to have the same meaning.  The “illness without disease” and “disease without illness” examples from lecture helped me with distinguishing between the two.

I’ll admit that I did not recognize right away that Miner was referencing American society in the article, but as I moved along I began to realize. The thought initially came to mind upon reading the paragraph starting with the sentence, “The fundamental belief underlying the whole system appears to be that the human body is ugly and that its natural tendency is to debility and disease.” As he proceeded to describe the rituals I began to catch on.

One ritual that I thought was interesting was that of the “shrine box” built into the wall filled with magical remedies, representing our medicine cabinet. We stand in front of the mirror obsessing over looks, and consume remedies of which only the “medicine man” or doctor knows the components of. The other that I found interesting was the mouth ritual.  This represents going to the dentist and the importance of good teeth in American society. These rituals explain what is valued as healthy in American society, and I enjoyed Miner’s tactics for demonstrating these values.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Elaina Clark says:

    I also thought the shrine box and teeth examples were interesting. The way he describes the rituals make them seem so absurd and unrealistic, but when I truly thought about it I was aware that it was accurate regarding the different health procedures people do on a daily basis. Although this article was written over 50 years ago, I believe the same components that Miner discusses about American health are still very much prevalent. For example, like you mentioned, people will stand in front of their mirrors obsessing over the way they look, etc. However, I do believe that people’s reliance on medicine, prescribed or not, has increased greatly, and the amount of medicine in general is more readily available and easier to obtain. In present times, people don’t always need a prescription to buy medicine. Anyone can walk into a CVS and buy cold medicine or aspirin. People used to take medicine for diseases and illnesses, and now all these other different remedies have come into the picture. An example would be diet pills. I feel like today’s society relies on medicine and these “medicine men” more than ever. On the other hand, I feel like mouth health is very important, and not necessarily for the societal aspect. It’s a good feeling to have brushed and flossed teeth, and it actually does improve your dental health a bunch.

  2. jurayjan says:

    I liked how you explained ethnomedical approach and it’s importance in touching everything on the spectrum of health. I think because America has such a rich and diverse group of people, we will more than likely run into different cultures of medicine which require completely different approaches that could end the same way.

    I also like your point about the medicine man, and how we often consume products with no backing just because they promise and attractive result. I think one big issue in our society is the lack of basic knowledge especially when it comes to medicine. I think it is necessary for everyone who goes through an educational system to learn some basic medicine, so that we are not completely stumped when we are faced with illogical concepts of health.

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