W1 Reflection: Biological Approach

I believe that the biological approach would be the most useful in studying health as it involves the consideration of a person’s genetics, the environment they are in, and their individual choices in regards to their health.  I believe that these three aspects are the most important ones in determining why a person’s health is what it is; especially in medical anthropology as it deals with how human behaviors affect health.  However, above all,  I believe that the environmental and genetic aspects are extremely important as certain diseases and illnesses are more common in certain areas than they are in others.  For example, Indians tend to be more susceptible to periodontal disease than any other ethnicity.

The distinction between illness and disease is pretty clear to me, most of the people in my extended families are doctors, and due to the sheer amount of people in my family, we have had our fair share of illnesses and diseases.  Illnesses are considered to be a period of mental or physical sickness while disease something that can be more long-term.  All diseases are illnesses, but not illnesses are diseases. (Kind of like all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares).

In the Nacirema article, I believe that Miner is talking about the american culture.  At first, when he was talking about the “holy-mouth -man,” I believed that he could have been talking about any western culture, as we tend to be the most serious about going to the dentist twice a year.  However, when the chopping down of a cherry tree was mentioned, I believed it narrowed it down to American culture, as it reminded me of how George Washington supposedly chopped down a cherry tree.  (Also, after googling the word, it appers that “nacirema” is “american” spelled backwards).

Two rituals the article mentioned were visiting the “holy-mouth-man” (the dentist), and “scraping and lacerating the surface of the face with a sharp instrument” (shaving).  The way these activities (that are considered culturally “normal” for us) are described sound either harmful or odd, almost as if it is mocking our customs as “Nacirema” may mock others– such as the rings women in Africa wrap around their necks, or the clay plates they may use to stretch their lips.  However, going to the dentist is very important for many Americans who care about their oral health, and shaving is important for those who care to keep up their physical appearances.


One thought on “W1 Reflection: Biological Approach

  1. Hello,

    After reading your post, it made me think about the activity post that I just commented on. Specifically, in regards to one’s individual actions towards their health. The post I previously commented on spoke in regards to anxiety, and the toll that it takes on an individual such as celebrities. In the post it mentioned how companies have celebrities advertise things such as weight loss or supplements that will make you more fit and healthier. I do see both sides of this scheme. One, I believe that having celebrities advertise a fitness supplement is smart because so many people look up to celebs that some will be willing to buy the supplement and give it a try. Since we do live in the obese country of America, I do like the tactic of trying to persuade the public to seek greater health. The other side of the story that I see is all the added pressure to these celebs to make sure that they appear to be as healthy as can be. If they fail to live up to their viewers standards they will be criticized immensely, which may lead to greater problems like depression. I also liked the way you compared illness and disease. The square and rectangle comparison is a great way to clarify the difference to some who may not be aware. Finally, I do agree with you stating that environment has a lot to do with one’s health. Granted, I may have taken this in the opposite direction in which you were thinking. However, I couldn’t help but think of the easy comparison of an advanced country, like America, to a third world country. It’s obvious that are health care will more than likely be more advanced than theirs, which means the health of our citizens should be better than that of a third world dweller.

    Have a good summer,

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