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.