Although all six approaches are interrelated and all are useful in studying health among cultures, I think the ethnomedical approach is the most useful for me when studying health. This approach focuses on medical systems among different societies that use a variety of methods in defining illness and finding the right treatment for such illnesses. I find this approach useful and interesting because it compares cultures and studies how they use medicine to diagnose and treat an illness. For example, in the western world, biomedicine is used to treat someone experiencing headaches by the use of pills and medication. On the other hand, African cultures might use methods of sorcery to diagnose an illness or disease and treat it. Comparing the two systems provides insight to a variety of methods of treating and diagnosing illness and therefore it helps determine how affective these systems are and the best ways to improve health.
Disease can be defined as a foreign body that can affect your physical or mental well being and is diagnosed by symptoms in western biomedicine. An example is a virus that spreads in a population. A virus will cause your immune system to weaken and can be spread among others. Two people with the virus might not feel the same symptoms but both are infected and should be treated. Illness is someone’s personal experience when something unpleasant causes physical or mental discomfort. It varies from person to person because everyone defines their own illness based on their experience, which is different from another’s experience. They could be free of any diseases but still feel ill. There is a clear difference between the two terms and I have observed such examples in others and myself around me.
The culture Miner is referring to in the Nacirema article is the one we live in today. I started to realize the reference when it was mentioned that the “Nacirema culture is characterized by a highly developed market economy which has evolved in a rich natural habitat” and I knew that related to our culture. I was sure of this when the article further mentioned the hierarchy of medical practitioners and said that the “holy-mouth-men”, referencing to dentists, was below the medicine men, the physician.
One of the rituals of the Nacirema culture was that of the mouth. They performed strange daily rituals to ensure their mouth was kept “healthy” and they did not lose social relationships. The ritual involved seeing the holy-mouth-man who used magical instruments to open up the mouth and clean it. Another ritual among the Nacirema was the secrecy they put into daily exposure of their body and its natural function. These rituals were part of the culture’s beliefs and ideologies and determined how they lived their everyday lives. It relates to our society and culture and the importance we put into hygiene and appearance.