Ecological Approach

Out of the six approaches, I find the ecological approach to be the most useful in studying health related subjects. I feel that reviewing plants and animals, the political economy, natural resources, culture, and humans will tell us a lot of what we need to know. I believe that this approach will be helpful to use and understand because we can tell a lot from our surroundings. Studying the environment can lead us to things about the population that we may have not known. For example, studying a culture can give away a populations infrastructure, structure, and substructure – all very important topics when learning about a new or still existing group. I did lean a little towards the biological approach and studying more individually based works well, but the outside factors such as political economy say a lot more about a group of people. When trying to learn more about a population or how disease spreads it is better to look at a whole group of people and study them, rather than one person who may be “the exception”.

The distinction of disease and illness was not obvious to me at first. After further defining each, I came to a better understanding. Illness is defined as an experience one goes through. Disease on the other hand is an internal state that impairs health. You should also know that one can be diseased, but not ill as with silent hypertension and one may also be ill, but not diseased as with severe depression. The difference between the two was not obvious to me at first because I thought they were both pretty much the same.

The culture that Miner is discussing is the American culture. There wasn’t a specific point in time when I noticed he was talking about us, but at the end I started to put bits and pieces together. Some facts that gave it away was the fundamental belief that the human body was ugly, that they visited a “holy-mouth-man” once or twice a year (a dentist), and how they connected their oral hygiene to their moral standings. Of course Americans would link having nice teeth to having lots of friends. A big give away is that Nacirema is American backwards.

Two rituals that I think are interesting are when the natives make a visit to the holy-mouth-man time after time to arrest decay and draw new friends (mouth-rite) and also how the natives reward the medicine man with substantial gifts so that he can heal them. When I first read this and did not know that Miner was talking about the Americans, I thought to myself why would you keep going back to a doctor if your teeth, year after year, were decaying. And why would you pay a medicine man exquisite gifts to heal you time and time again. This is all true though for Americans. It is great to see this kind of evidence through the eyes of what someone would think is a different culture. These rituals show how many of us take pride in keeping ourselves healthy and just exactly how far we are willing to go. The mouth-rite represents health in that when there are complications orally, we do whatever we can to fix it because if we are not okay with it, then the individuals we know won’t be satisfied. It also shows how important medicine is to us and how often we use it. If we did not think that it would do anything to assist us, then we wouldn’t go to these “medicine-men” or “holy-mouth-men”.

This Post Has 1 Comment

  1. Paige Smith says:

    In the Miner article, there were many instances where I thought some of their medical practices were ridiculous. One particular practice was performed at the women’s ceremony where their heads were baked in an oven for a certain amount of time. Even though it is evident that Miner is writing about American culture I still could not find a correlation with our health practices today and their practice of baking the heads in the oven. However, other rituals, like the mouth-rite that you mentioned, are very similar to our decision to go to the dentist. In our culture (just like the Nacirema) we have the tendency to view our bodies as imperfect and even dirty. This is why the idea of having clean and healthy teeth is so important to us. So, we visit the dentist a few times a year to have them check our mouths and probe them with various instruments. We allow them to floss our teeth and swish mouthwash and other fluids around to rid ourselves of unwanted bacteria. In return for his service, we pay the dentist with money which is very similar to the way the Nacirema would reward the medicine man with gifts. With that being said, I do not think there is a way to make those rituals of the Nacirema more modern. We already do this by visiting the dentist and paying them and other doctors, or “medicine men” with money for curing us of our afflictions and keeping us healthy.

Leave a Reply