applied approach

I chose applied health as the approach that would be most helpful for me to utilise. I feel that this approach would allow me to incorporate the biological, ecological, ethno-medical, experiential, and critical approaches into my career as all of them have their merits. Because I would like to work in the public health sector — specifically with some intersection between global public health and policy — I think using these theories/knowledge/insight from anthropology and turning it into praxis would be greatly beneficial.  The career path I’m on requires me to have knowledge about the other approaches (as will most other career paths) — only focusing on the biological approach, for instance, would not provide sufficient explanations for health or illness. All these approaches to some degree build off of one another so incorporating all of them would be the best choice and I feel that I can do that within the applied approach.

There is a clear distinction between illness and disease. Illness is the feelings one might have when sick; it’s the human experience which is socio-culturally informed. Disease, on the other hand, is the outward or altered physical manifestations of the illness. There is more of an emphasis on the pathological processes that may play a role in an individual’s illness narrative. It wasn’t until I started university that I became aware of this distinction. I hadn’t really paid much attention to these terms prior to that.

The culture that Miner is discussing in his article is actually that of American culture. I knew this going into reading this article as I’ve read it for other classes. In fact, the title “Nacirema” is “American” spelled backwards.

Miner discusses this ‘odd’ ritual of the Nacirema wherein the individual inserts “a small bundle of hog hairs into the mouth, along with certain magical powders” (2). This is the process of teeth-brushing. This is to emphasize the importance of dental hygiene in our culture and it’s effect on our relationships with others and ourselves. Another observation Miner made was that of the rituals in the ‘latipso’ (hospital). He points out that “no matter how ill the supplicant or how grave the emergency, the guardians of many temples will not admit a client if he cannot give a rich gift to the custodian” (3). This highlights the importance of wealth in our health. Essentially, our health is only as good as the money we can put into it.

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  1. Albert Tamayo says:

    The rituals you have explained from Miner’s article do not appear to need updating. Brushing our teeth and money’s relation to our quality of healthcare seem to be just as relevent today as they were 50 years ago.

    I know that I personally brush my teeth twice a day and I try not to look twice when I see that someone has teeth that are heavily stained and yellow. This is not something that I would like to worry about when I encounter someone like that, but since having clean teeth was always such a normal expectation in my upbringing it is difficult for me to ignore. Is this something that we should even be worrying about? Probably not. Afterall, someone else’s poor teeth rarely affect us personally unless they make you physically sick to your stomach.

    Also, money has always influenced the level of healthcare that one can receive. Although there will always be instances of pro-bono care, by-and-large the best hospitals, doctors, and medicine are only available to those that can afford them. Economic factors influence everyone, especially the poor, so this is clearly something that we should continue to think about going forward as healthcare professionals.

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