W1 Reflection: Ecological Approach

The approach I find most useful, especially considering an anthropological context, is the ecological approach.  I especially like this approach because it considers a mindset derived from the relationship between different environments and organisms.  This is especially important when analyzing how anthropological studies looks to find different relationships to certain agendas among different cultures.

Considering how medical anthropology specifically looks to analyze how different cultures handle health and disease, it’s interesting to look at the distinction between disease and illness, especially because the terms are commonly used synonymous with each other.  Before being introduced into the material we will be learning in this class, I didn’t really consider the difference between the two terms but under more inspection, the two terms do serve varying purposes.  Disease is meant to be used as a biological definition for different conditions of the body.  This includes the different symptoms the common cold may have over the flu, or cancer compared to diabetes.  In these diseases, a clear distinction is made on what exactly each disease is.  This is different from an illness which is used for more personal experiences dealing with conditions of the body.  This is many times used more subjectively from an individual, such as an individual feeling ill due to food poisoning or the common cold to something more serious like a high fever.

When reading the Miner article it was first difficult to comprehend the practices of the indigenous North American people, the Nacerima due to the extremely unorthodox nature of their practices.  When looking into the more mystic elements of the practices these people do, it occurred to me that these people undergo ethnomedical rituals to heal the body.  This occurred to me when I read about how the Nacerima people depend on specialized individuals to guide them in their health practices.  An example of this is when looking into the “holy-mouth-men”.  It is astonishing seeing the type of infliction the “holy-mouth-men” incur among the subjects but it also shows the strength of belief on the practitioners, especially being that this ritual comes at a price.  The “listener” is another example of another specialized practitioner used to heal the soul.  The quote at the end of the article really put everything into perspective, as although these practices seem barbaric, in its nature we derive our modern civilization from the roots of the magical and mystic.

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