Ethnomedical Approach

I think that the ethnomedical approach would be the most interesting for me when it comes to understanding health in this course, although all six of the approaches are extremely important when learning/studying health. I say this because many science majors are well informed on the biological aspect of health. With me once being a human biology major I know for a fact that our whole college curriculum consists of the biological determinants. That was the main reason why I changed my major to interdisciplinary in social science and peaked interest in public health because it focused more on the ethnomedical approach. This approach allows all health care professionals to prevent and or treat a persons illness while at the same time meeting the needs and wants of the patients culture beliefs.

The distinction between disease and illness is kind of obvious now that I have taken a epidemiology and public health class, before if this question would have been asked I would have said no. So because of my previous knowledge I now know that there is a distinction between disease and illness.  Disease can cause an illness, a disease is physical and/or mental structure of the human body that can be caused by genetic, physical, biological, or chemical factors.  An illness deals with the feelings a person experience that is associated with the disease and is determined by a persons culture. Illness can also differ from person to person. To sum up illness it is basically a humans response to a disease.

The culture Miner is talking about in the Nacerima article is the American culture. I realized this when he started talking about Washington cutting down the cherry tree as well as the development of the market economy.

One ritual described in the Nacerima article is talking about the shrine that was built into the wall shows the importance of prescribed pills(potions) and medicines(charm pills) in the Nacirema culture which ties into they belief that the “human body is ugly”. Another ritual is the ritual referring to the holy mouth. This ritual shows that cleanliness and hygiene  is important to them and is something that they value.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Alexis Rife says:

    Many of the rituals that Miner described in his article fifty years ago are consistent with our health values and ideologies today. This applies to the importance the Nacirema place on their potions and charms that they keep in one place. We all have medicine cabinets that are full to bursting because we keep all of our leftover pills just in case we need them again. Our society today insists that almost anything can be cured with a pill. One difference, though, is that we generally do not build a shrine to our medicine cabinets as Miner explained of the Nacirema.

    Our current rituals of cleanliness and hygiene are also not very different from those Miner described in the Nacirema culture. We visit our dentists to have our teeth cleaned, whitened, straightened, removed, etc. This part of the “holy-mouth-men” ritual still rings true. But now we do not endure a significant amount of pain during each visit. Now we have laughing gas and shots for numbness. Dentistry is a well-respected profession and is not in any way considered sadistic as Miner depicted of the “holy-mouth-men” practices in the Nacirema culture. Overall, our dental practices are very similar to those of the “holy-mouth-men” minus massive amounts of pain.

  2. Krystn Hartner says:

    The rituals that Miner describes in this Nacerima article have many comparisons to what we do in our everyday life. One of your examples, the shrine in the wall with the potions and charms, is used to make the humans healthier and to protect them. I believe that we do the exact same ritual for the exact same purposes. However, the potions and charms in the Nacerima culture are probably too weak for our culture nowadays. In our culture today, the medicine is much more advanced and there is many different kinds. Another one of the rituals that is described in this article is the ‘holy mouth rite’. This ritual cleans the teeth of the Nacerima culture and drills and fixes what needs to be repaired. We still use this ritual all the time but it is not to the pain level that they have. Overall I think that Miner describes the rituals in a dramatized way to show how some people live in this society. Some people will go a long ways to fix what needs to be fixed and to stay in the best shape that they can. All of the rituals that Miner describes relate to us today, and all of them could be updated just a little bit to show how advanced we have become.

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