Ecological Approach

From the six methods of medical anthropology I think for me the Ecological approach will be most helpful in understanding health. The main reason I choose this one is because I am interested in the more broad sense of health. I am trying to get into a Public health master’s program and I think the ecological approach fits more so with the ways health is viewed and dealt with in MPH programs.

To me the distinction between disease and illness is that for me illness is defined more so in the qualitative factors, i.e. not feeling well, sore, hurting. And a disease is more of a defined medical problem that is often times a chronic occurrence.

Well when I first read this article I knew there was no such thing as the Nacerima, so I looked at the name and realized that it’s just America spelled backwards. I do think he raised some good points in the way people can be so biased with their views often explained as ethnocentrism. At first it seemed really strange, but a lot of that has to do with the way we view the world around us.

Well the first ritual I thought was really interesting was the idea of going to a mouth medicine man. I mean it is pretty true that many people still get cavities even though they go to the dentist twice a year. It’s pretty funny the way he tries to trick you into thinking that something as “normal” as brushing your teeth can be described in such a way that it seems disgusting.

The other ritual I thought was interesting was the idea of the healing temple or the hospital. It’s very true that people are turned away from the services held there despite the severity of their illness. It just goes to show you that in America you really do need money to be healthy and people will spare no expense to have their health.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Mohkam Singh says:

    I honestly did not realize that the article was satirical for American culture until after I had finished the assignment. Regardless, the “holy-mouth-man” Miner describes sounds like an illogical useless practitioner who serves the Nacirema people to fuel their social appetites. In reality, dentists serve an important role. While yes we do not need to have perfect teeth it is important to maintain our oral hygiene because our mouths are a portal to the rest of our bodies. He states the mouth-men “enlarge” decaying holes, pretty much making space in order to fill a cavity. Currently in our society today, we still hold dentists to a high regard. Lucky for us, most dentists aren’t as mouth happy as they were back 50 years ago, so brushing and flossing is really all we need to maintain proper hygiene. Instead of crowning a completely dead tooth, we are now able to just replace said tooth with a prosthetic. My dad has two fake teeth due to an accident he was involved in. While they aren’t natural, his fake teeth are actually stronger and look better than his other teeth. It is interesting how far medicine has come and the comparisons we can make between our current era and the past through Miner’s tribal interpretation of American medical practices.

  2. frank181 says:

    I was torn between my choice (ethonmedical) and ecological. I think the ecological approach is good because environment has a lot of relationship to what disease or illness someone can contract. Someone who lives in Alaska probably is a lot less likely to contract malaria than someone who lives in a highly mosquito populated area on Africa. Someone who lives in a more industrialized city is probably at higher risk for certain diseases like allergies and lung cancers than someone who lives in a less urbanized area.
    I thought the ritual with the healing temple was especially interesting. It reminded me a lot of how our health care system is right now. You can only be as healthy as what you can afford. I learned a lot about comparisons in the worlds health care while studying abroad in Japan this summer. In Japan everyone has equal health care privileges regardless of how much money they make. No one is turned away from the hospital because they are poor. Also there is more emphasis on healing ones spirits as well as healing their bodies. Hospital stays are longer to ensure that the patient is spiritually healed as well as physically and mentally.

  3. sarah rousakis says:

    I also chose the ecological approach for many of the same reasons as you described, such as being interested in the broader sense of health. I am very much interested in how humans adapt to their environment and how it affects them physically, mentally and emotionally. After traveling to the Dominican Republic and learning about their customs and traditions regarding health, I was made aware of how important it is to recognize and respect those traditions in order to gain the trust of your patient and be able to treat them effectively. For example, most Dominican’s believe that if they drink a mixture of special herbs when they are sick that this will cure them, and if a physician prescribes medication for them they will refuse to take it because they do not trust doctors. Their faith and trust is completely in spirits and they believe that spirits will make them better and they need the herbs to help with their healing. It was important for me to learn how more people in other parts of the world are truly devoted to alternative medicines and avoiding western medicine that we have become so accustomed to using.
    I also thought that Miner’s article on American culture was a really accurate depiction of American culture and how American’s have become completely consumed in achieving the “ideal” image. It made me realize that our “normal” rituals may seem very unusual and somewhat drastic to others.

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