Ethnomedical Approach

From the six approaches in lecture 2, I think that Ethnomedical studies will be most useful to me. This is because it is such an incredibly large issue in modern society. The biggest questions out there right now are, “Is stem cell research ethical?” and “What is the correct view – pro-choice or pro-life?” as well as conflicts on physician-assisted suicide and when to ‘pull the plug’. Studying these types of conflicts would make me a better doctor and be able to utilize my knowledge to make decisions within the questions that arise in our culture. I’m sure that there are vital questions in other countries as well that need answering.

The distinction between disease and illness was not so obvious to me. Growing up I always interchanged the two words and never really thought twice about it. Now, I think of illness as anything that prevents you from living life in a healthy way (health being defined as a balance of all systems of the body). Illnesses can be mental or physical, and it comes from a disease. A disease is the actual cause of harm to the body. For instance, if a poisonous spider bit you, the poison in your blood would cause the disease, and the disease would bring you fatigue and sweating (the illness).


When reading Nacirema, my first thoughts were, “Wow, what a strange, strange culture. Is this real?” Then I read about the teeth pulling and it reminded me of dentists. Finally, when the women were having their breasts either reduced or enlarged, I knew this was our American (Nacirema spelled backwards) culture.

The title itself, “Body Ritual among the Nacirema,” explains a lot about their culture – they are infatuated with their physical bodies. This could range from making it look as perfect as possible to keeping it healthy and balanced through medicine.

The latipsos are hospitals. The “costumes” the workers impose are usually blue with masks, a customary doctor’s uniform. I would imagine that this is the safest and more efficient way for doctors to dress. They cannot always heal every patient, as to why the article explains that people still go to the latispos in hope that there is a small chance that they may be able to recover. Sometimes, they do get worse, and that is a way of life in our world. That is why researchers today are still trying to improve medicine and the overall health of our people as a nation, and it is proven to be effective as the age expectancy continually rises as years pass.

The practitioner that is a “listener” is a therapist/counselor, or psychologist. It is very true that many of these problems arise from family life at a young age, and these specialists are there to help their patients clear their mind and help with closure on recurring thoughts.

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