W1 Reflection: Applied Approach

Personally, I had a hard time selecting just one of the approaches as being “the most helpful” because they all have their own purpose and work together for the greater good. However for the sake of this assignment, I chose the “applied” approach as one I feel that is important. The reason why I feel this approach is helpful because its an area of the healthcare system that I feel is lacking. As an aspiring healthcare worker, we are taught many academic fundamentals and are taught to be some of the brightest, more intelligent people in the work field, and as important as it is to be “smart,” I feel its also extremely important for a healthcare worker to express cultural awareness and practice these anthropology approaches. In  the applied approach, anthropologists assist in different areas such as the hospital and governmental agencies, to serve as the cultural bridge. They are there to help the physician better understand the patients illness or disease, and their beliefs, and to help the patient understand the importance of the treatment provided by their healthcare provider. The applied approach creates more understanding between patient and provider, resulting in better care.

From the lecture, we learn that the difference between illness and disease is basically that disease abnormal condition of the body that can be clinically diagnosed, whereas illness is what a person feels. It is possible to have one without the other, but many times, when a person has a disease, they may feel some sort of illness, and vice versa. Before this course, I took a course that explained the difference between disease and illness so I was aware that there was a difference, however I would say before recently, I did not know these was a difference. Myself, like many other people, thought illness, sickness, and disease all meant you had some sort of condition. I would say that this difference is not obvious to most people because most times they automatically connect symptoms (illness) with disease.

The culture that Miner seems to be describing in the article “Body Ritual Among the Nacirema” sounds a lot like American culture, and perhaps other progressed communities. I first noticed the culture being described when he the author went into detail about what a dentist visit is like. He proceeded to describe other details of American life, like frequent doctor visits and going to the salon. Two of the “rituals” that stood out to me would be the one about the use of plastic surgery to enlarge a woman’s breast, and patients not being able to visit the medicine men without providing them a “gift.” I found it funny that the author mentioned that the women enlarging their breast go to villages and show them for a fee. It points to prostitution or stripping. It sounds as if the values of the Nacirema culture is the same as American culture, do what it takes for money even if its not a culturally positive action, and physical image is very important to most people. In regards to the medicine men visits that require a gift, it describes what we call in American culture, having health insurance. Unfortunately we see in both the American and the Nacirema cultures, that receiving healthcare is not possible or easy for everyone, especially for those without insurance or money. It shows that the ideals of these two cultures weigh money over health.

Overall, I found the article very interesting. It shows how some cultures look at our American culture. Often times, it’s hard for one culture to understand another when it’s different from their own. What is normal for one culture, may be thought of as negative in another. This is why its important for anthropologists and others to explain the differences we see in other cultures, so that people may have a better understanding.

One thought on “W1 Reflection: Applied Approach

  1. Hey Jessica! I enjoyed reading through your post and thought it was cool that you picked a different approach than most people picked. I agree with your point about how the applied approach is lacking in the healthcare system. As a future (hopefully) healthcare worker myself, it is extremely important to be smart and have cultural/social awareness. I like how you tied in information from the lecture about the difference between illness and disease. It can truly be a common misconception for many people everywhere. When it comes to the Nacirema article, you touched base on some interesting points about how it connects with American culture. However, since the article is more than fifty years old, there may be some rituals and values that differ today. To comment on one of the rituals that you made a point on, obviously breast enlargement surgery has been a big deal for women since it became available. I just think that in present day, a lot of women do it to meet the standards that have been placed on a lot of people in this country. The media plays a large role in how sexuality is portrayed in present day. Everyone feels that they need to be like the girl on TV or on the radio. You make a valid point on how it ties into American culture; I just feel that it has amplified in the past fifty or so years. To comment on the second point you made about the medicine men providing a gift (health insurance), it has always been a problem for a lot of American citizens to get approved for health insurance. I think that it has become a lot more available in present day for people of low income, and actually all levels of income for that matter. Both of the rituals you chose to comment on play a huge role in today’s health values and ideologies, and you did a good job relating them from an article that was written over fifty years ago.
    -Ty

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