I believe that the ecological approach will be most useful to me in studying health because I am very much interested in how humans adapt to their environment and how this affects them physically, mentally and emotionally. I recently traveled to the Dominican Republic and was told about all of the different traditions and beliefs that the people in Santo Domingo have regarding health. The physicians there explained to us that it is important for them as doctors to understand and respect the natives cultural beliefs in order to gain their trust and treat them effectively.
The distinction between disease and illness is that a disease is an actual state whether mental, emotional, physical etc. While an illness can be the actual feelings that can accompany a disease, such as pain, weakness, nausea etc. Although I knew that both terms we’re very much related, it was not immediately clear how they were different. To me, any disease is an illness, and a person with a particular illness can also have a “disease.”
In his article, Miner is referring to American culture. I started to suspect this was about American when he wrote about an North American group living between Canada and Mexico, and how their culture focused on the appearance and health of the human body, it being a “dominant concern” for the people. He wrote that the people in this culture believe their bodies are ugly and the people try to change their appearance in any way that they can. His article was a very accurate interpretation of American culture, in my opinion.
One ritual described was the use of hog hairs and magical powders in the mouth. Miner describes this ritual as being very unusual and an obsessive ritual that the Nacirema culture performs. This comparison portrays the obsessive and compulsive characteristics that people in American culture possess when it comes to physical appearance.
Another ritual described by Miner which further illustrates American society’s obsession with appearance and achieving the “ideal” body and look is his description of the ritual fasts that the Nacirema culture perform in order to make fat people thin or ceremonial feasts to make thin people fat. It is clear through Miner’s article that modern American culture is completely dominated by appearance and the drastic measures that one has to take in order to achieve the “perfect appearance.”