Experiential Approach

I think the experiential approach will be the most helpful for me to use and understand when studying health. This is because, although I believe each approach is very useful and necessary to the field, the experiential approach seems to have the broadest and most influential application to me personally. In the activity for this week it became clear to me that everyone has a different definition of health and illness. This means that in the real world everyone thinks about, treats, and explains their health differently. As a future healthcare professional I need to be able to understand that and use that knowledge to better communicate with patients. Doing so will lead to the patient achieving their health goals and improving their quality of care.

The distinction between disease and illness is that disease is an effect of the human environment, while illness is an effect of the human experience. This is an extremely fine line of distinction that took me a while to breakdown mentally. However, the factors that influence them (culture and biology influence illness while behavior and socio-political factors influence disease) helped me further understand the difference. Since illness is based on the human experience it is more subjective in nature, while the effect of a person’s environment manifested as a disease is slightly more tangible.

In his Nacirema article, Miner is talking about the American culture. I recognized this in the second paragraph when Miner says that the culture lives between Canada and Mexico and whose national hero was a man named Notgnishaw, which is basically Washington backwards. I then saw that the term Nacirema is actually American backwards.

I did think this article’s colorful description of a typical morning preparing in the bathroom was insightful. Most of us stand in front of our bathroom mirror and glance at ourselves to see how we look. We then attempt to “improve” our look by combing our hair, brushing our teeth, and covering up ugly marks. Rarely, if ever, do we stop and think about why we do the things we do, especially our practices around beauty. I also thoroughly enjoyed Miner’s perspective on going to the dentist. Describing the dentist as a “holy-mouth-man” who exorcises the evils of our mouths with “almost unbelieveable ritual torture of the client.” I wish every dentist would read that paragraph. Obviously our culture places heavy emphasis on having a clean mouth. We expect others to adhere to this expectation and would not put ourselves through the process if this was not so important to us. Miner’s language is very insightful and helps us reflect on parts of our daily culture in ways that we never would have thought twice about otherwise.

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  1. Maureen John says:

    You are one of the few people on here who chose the experiential approach. The majority of the people I saw chose biological or ethnomedical approach. I completely agree with you that the experiential approach has the broadest and most influential application. For me, I feel that this approach is very flexible to accommodate different lifestyles and cultures. I also had a hard time figuring out the distinction between illness and disease. Illness to me was more psychological while disease was more physiological. Illness was anything that brought emotional instability or stress that lead to further deterioration of ones health, eventually causing the disease itself.

    The Nacirema article was a cleverly crafted article by Miner. I noticed the reference to Washington when they mentioned chopping down the cherry tree. What I didn’t notice was that Notgnishaw was Washington and Nacirema was American spelled backwards. I love that you point out the fact that we never think about why we do the things we do when we get ready in the morning. We have been doing these routines every morning that it’s become habit and we do not question it. Going to the dentist is definitely not most peoples favorite thing to do. Although we still go to the dentist despite our “fears” because society has made it the beauty norm that people should have clean, straight, white teeth. It is definitely interesting to see how Miner targets these cultural norms that we often forget.

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