W1 Reflection: Experimental Approach

Of the six approaches from lecture 2, I believe the experiential approach will be most useful to me in studying health. I believe this will be the most helpful to use for myself because of having to make sense of people’s illness experience through narrative. I am extremely personable and a great listener and would best learn by maybe imagining myself in their experience and understanding what kind of health decisions were made by that experience.  These decisions can become hard to make when the distinction between disease and illness is blurred for certain people. For myself, the distinction was obvious because an illness is basically being “under the weather” or “having a bug”. These are things that anyone can get just from everyday life like the common cold or the flu and it is relatively easy to get rid of.  A disease sounds more serious than an illness and sounds like something you can “catch” for lack of a better word from other people who have it or an area that is home to it and it isn’t as easy, maybe even impossible, to get rid of. I can understand though how some people may not think the distinction is so obvious.

The culture that Miner is talking about in the Nacerima article is the America culture. This did not become apparent to me for such a long time! After reading the question in the prompt I had to look over the article a good handful of times and still didn’t really understand. It wasn’t until I solely focused on the word Nacirema that a light bulb just happened to go off.  You’d think the article would have given me plenty of hints! After understanding the culture being describe was the America culture it because very eye opening to me the way Miner decided to talk about the various rituals practiced. I first thought he hit the nail on the head in describing the ritual to either make, “fat people thin or thin people fat”. In today’s society there is a huge general dissatisfaction with the way one looks and this statement shows that our culture values what we look like over our health. People are constantly striving to have the “perfect image” when that is impossible to achieve. I also found the ritual of the shrine and its charms to be rather interesting. In my eyes, the shrine is like a medicine cabinet and the charms are like dieting pills. I gathered this because Miner said, “…charms and magical potions without which no native believes he could live” and “the medicine men write down the ingredients in an ancient and secret language”. Dieting pills and remedies are things that are hard to live without once taken in my opinion because people become so satisfied with the progress or results of them that they don’t want to go back. The medicine man also seemed like a doctor who writes prescriptions for these pills which always look to be in another language. This again shows that the American culture idolize a body shape they don’t have over how good their health may or may not be.

2 thoughts on “W1 Reflection: Experimental Approach

  1. I think it is interesting how you mentioned the medicine cabinet described in the Nacerima article. What I find interesting is that since the article was written over fifty years ago there seems to be a shift in the cultural perception of the relationship of medicine and health. I have noticed a significant increase and emphasis on ‘natural’, organic or more holisitic approaches to health that are much less ‘medicalized’. I have even seen an increase in articles on whether supplements such as vitamins are beneficial or have adverse affects on people. Do you think we are going towards a less traditionally medicalized approach to health? I mean in some ways I believe we are, but in some I don’t think so. We seem to have an increase in children being prescribed adderall, but many doctors believe we are just prescribing adderall to deal with normal childhood behaviors of children, thus in a way medicalizing childhood. I also see a trend in celebrities endorsing natural lifestyles such as eating organic and this natural lifestyle seems to not include vaccinations for fear of autism in children. Do you think this article could include a fear of medicalization if updated? Yet you also see a medicalization of beauty on the other hand, with an increase in lip injections. That would have been an interesting phenomenon for this article to touch upon.

  2. Although I believe that the biological approach is the most useful for studying health, I agree with many of the points you made for the experimental approach. I really like your view on the Nacerima culture. In my perception of the Nacerima culture, I believed that the medicine man and the herbalist were a doctor to pharmacist relationship. The fact that many people get prescribed with medicine and do not get a clear explanation of how long you should take them, leads to the cabinet being over filled with all the medication that is being prescribed. The ritual of going to the holy-mouth-man every year is in relation to the dentist. The technology of dental procedures is far more advanced than 50 years ago, so coming back to the holy-mouth-man to endure all the pain would not be a problem. Your approach is very interesting and true. The healthcare system 50 years ago was mostly used for medical reasons. We live in a culture where appearance is everything. The healthcare system has a huge focus on cosmetic and plastic surgery. This leads to many people wanting the perfect look and the dental system used to create the perfect smile. The healthcare system now compared to the Nacerima culture is far more advanced, but seems to be used for others aesthetic appeal.

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