I believe that the biological approach is the most useful approach to use. To me, this seems like the most objective way to study sickness. Connections can be made between certain conditions and having certain genes (e.g. Huntington’s disease), participating in certain behaviors (e.g. smoking), or living in a given area (e.g. malaria in Africa). I realize that anthropology is very much about qualitative data, but quantitative data seems more compelling.
Disease is actually showing symptoms and having some sort of physical affliction, while illness is the subjective experience. I was not confused by the distinction, however I think there are better ways of phrasing it (thinks he/she is sick; he she is sick).
The article is about Americans, this became evident as soon as allusions were made to George Washington.
The first “ritual” I would like to address is that of going to a hospital. The article grossly oversimplifies every act it attempts to mock and the hospital is no exception. Aside from the remarks it makes about the payment system in America, all other points seem to fall short of the goal. For example, when describing the lack of privacy I fail to see the issue. Is the author suggesting that I should resist performing bodily functions in front of a healthcare professional? The reason I would be hesitant in front of a family member and not in front of a doctor or nurse is because unlike a family member, a doctor can garner some information from observing. Furthermore, the comments on needles that “may even kill” makes it seem as though you have a 50/50 shot at life or death. So as far as ideal and values I would say this represents privacy and trust in a trained professional.
Next, I will address the “ritual” of shaving. The author clearly shaves has face with a rusty butcher knife if the process is even half a brutal as he describes. Perhaps the act of shaving may seem unpleasant, but the alternative involves an itchy face, having to worry about food/drink ending up in your beard, and increased heat in hot months. To me it seems that shaving demonstrates a culture that values comfort and hygene.