I think the ecological approach would be the most useful to study health. I think this approach is very helpful in analyzing health and health patterns because it seems to be the most quantitative approach. You can analyze cause and effect relationships between organisms and their environment and understand why certain organisms are flourishing and why others are dying off.  I feel this approach is one of the easiest to understand because  most, if not all, ecosystems are striving towards equilibrium and if you can figure out what is causing a disruption in this balance you can attempt to solve the problem. For example a certain species of frogs live near a large inland lake and people decide they’re going to put an irrigation canal in the lake and start using the water on their crops. The water level in the lake would go down over the years faster than it can be replaced resulting in a swamp marshland. The breeding grounds for the frogs has diminished and therefore the population goes down but the swampland also is now a huge perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes and black flies, with less frogs to eat the flies the population of the mosquitoes skyrockets and increases the chance that mosquitoes transmit diseases between and among local populations.

Disease is the outward clinical manifestation of altered physical function or infection, basically being able to see that someone is not healthy. Illness is the human experience and perception of alterations in health, it’s more of the feeling of being not healthy. When you first asked to define illness I pretty much wrote the definition of disease because  I thought illness and disease were synonyms.

Miner was talking about the American culture, I realized it first because the great culture hero ‘ Notgnihsaw” cut down a cherry tree and canoed across the river and I was like wait didn’t Washington do that? Then i saw notgnihsaw was Washington spelled backwards then i saw Nacirema was American backwards and put two and two together.

The mouth cleaning ritual with the goat hair and magical powder was clearly similar to brushing your teeth and it represents the idea that having a clean mouth and white teeth are considered healthy and will help with social interactions. The shrine box ritual seemed to be like the cabinet in the bathroom that holds all the pill bottles. To me it represents how many different medications are prescribed and our belief in all these different medicines will cure all ailments and make us healthy.


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  1. Carrie Blackwell says:

    I would never have thought to use the ecological approach when it comes to studying health but after reading your post it makes a lot of sense. Like you said, systems are working to find equilibrium. When a body is diseased or in other terms has some form of illness, the body strives to maintain equilibrium. The body goes through a number of things such as fevers, chills, nausea; all to get the system back to equilibrium or normal.
    It was very interesting to see your take on the Nacirema Miner article. The clues you found I completely over looked. I had some feeling about Notgnihsaw being Washington because of the cherry tree, but I did not see the word play. I also didn’t realize Nacirema was American spelled backwards as well.
    Just as you thought I agree that the mouth cleaning ritual is like brushing your teeth. Further into the mouth ritual, the “holy-mouth-man” is like a dentist that many people in the modern American culture visit annually. How you look at the shrine box is somewhat different than what I envisioned, but a very interesting perspective. I saw the shrine box relating to how much Americans put time, money, and effort into appearance.

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