Biological approach

I have personally decided that the approach that would be the most helpful for me to use and understand would be the biological approach. The primary reason I feel this way is because the biological approach allows anthropologists to determine how a person’s individual choices, environment, and genetics have affected their well-being. There are many things that can be revealed about a person simply by evaluating these three aspects of their life. It makes it possible for anthropologists to determine where exactly a disease has stemmed from and why the patient is experiencing the symptoms that they are.

While there is a distinction between disease and illness, it may not be easy for everyone to recognize. To put it simply, a disease is a condition that affects an organism and is not influenced by culture meaning that regardless of an individual’s cultural beliefs, a disease will still infect the body the same way it would in someone with different cultural beliefs. Illness, on the other hand, is the feeling that may be associated with a disease such as weakness, pain, and confusion and this may be influenced by culture meaning that people of differing cultural beliefs may describe the symptoms of a disease differently. Initially, I considered diseases and illnesses to be one in the same since I have always heard the two words used interchangeably, but now with a new perspective, it has become easier to differentiate between the two.

The culture that Miner is describing in this article is that of the Americans. I was able to determine this in a couple of different ways. First, I came to this conclusion after miner revealed the location that the Nacirema reside. Secondly, looking for more evidence to support this conclusion, I realized that Nacirema is simply American backwards. It became increasingly more obvious throughout the article that he was describing Americans especially when he began to get in depth about certain aspects of the culture such as appearance and how the culture is characterized by a highly developed market economy.

One ritual that I found interesting in its description through this article was the ritual called latipso which represents a modern day visit to the hospital for an American. As described by Miner, a trip to the hospital is generally not a pleasant one. For example, the guardians of the temple (hospital) will not admit a client if he cannot give a rich gift to the custodian (if the patient does not have health insurance). Lacking health insurance in America has made it nearly impossible for a sick person to receive any type of decent treatments for their sickness or injury. This ritual also goes on to describe how the maidens (nurses) are frequently pestering the patients throughout the day during their daily ceremonies or rituals by taking their temperatures/vitals and giving them medicine to assist in the healing process.

A second ritual that I found interesting in this article was the ritual that described the “listener” which would compare to a psychiatrist/psychologist in today’s age. This “witch-doctor” has the ability to exercise the devils that lodge in the heads of people that have been bewitched which describes how psychiatrists/psychologists are able to help patients work through the mental troubles they are suffering from which may have been caused by some sort of mental/physical abuse or trauma. This ritual represents the ideology that the Nacirema need help dealing with mental illnesses because they are not able to deal with them on their own, which strongly represents the population of American’s that see psychiatrists/psychologists in order to help relieve the mental stressors that hinder their ability to live a healthy life.


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  1. Meredith Joseph says:

    Over 50 years lots has changed in the medical field and many advances have been made. The two rituals that you described, hospital care and psychologist visits, are still very common today, but even more accepted now in the American culture. Making a trip to the hospital in an emergency situation is now an automatic reaction, no matter your economic status. Over the years our culture has made medical care much more accessible to the less fortunate. Our culture now sees that everyone deserves to have access to health care in some shape or form. Unlike 50 year ago were only the fortunate got medical attention. Today going to a psychologist is not out of the norm and more widely accepted. In fact if people are struggling with relationships or with trauma going to a psychologist is what our culture sees as a healthy solution to “fix” the problem. Today medical help is used in several more aspects of everyday life than it was 50 years ago. Some see this as a good thing, while others would rather let things run their course and work out their problems on their own. Over the 50 years of medical advances many more people are being treated which is wonderful, but is our culture taking preventative measures too far, that is what I wonder at times.

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