Activity 5- Critical Medical Anthropological and Malnutrition- Sincie Chacko

When I initially came across the concept of the Critical Medical Anthropological theory, I automatically assumed medicine and anthropology went hand in hand. However, after reading the article by Inhorn, I realized this is not the case at all. “Epidemiology is reductionistic and positivistic. Anthropology is holistic and humanistic. (Inhorn, 1995)” Inhorn explains that these two concepts are very different approaches. Epidemiology, or the medical aspect of the theory, is very laboratory based and all about crunching numbers, whereas anthropology heavily focuses on human interaction and leaves room for interpretation. One is very by the books and the other is not. What I like about this theory is that while one does not go completely hand in hand with the other, it is an overall different perspective on analyzing health issues and what other factors they may be caused by instead of focusing solely on the purely medical aspect. Often, what people are thinking on the inside or the cause of their actions which lead to these poor health conditions, such as malnutrition, are vital in understanding why a person got to the place they are.

The critical medical anthropological approach suits the issue of malnutrition in India very well because it is one of the perfect medical issues to analyze from a different perspective. While failing to maintain proper nutritional habits due to poverty or lack of education can clearly cause malnutrition, there are numerous underlying causes which are related to the social aspect of those people’s lives. Women who are brought up in an abusive family or relationship can suffer from stress, anxiety, and other emotional hardship which may cause them to suppress the desire to eat. Being brought up in poverty, while may not seem to correlate to malnutrition initially, may cause women to give up their own food for their families or children out of guilt or compassion, causing them to encounter major malnutrition issues and sometimes passing it onto their next generation. While medical factors play a large role in someone’s physical well-being, many people never encounter much physical pain, but experience more inner warfare that can affect them greatly in the long run. This theory gives people a chance to see every disease or health issue they or a family member has ever encountered for more than what is simply on the surface level. Malnutrition is not only the simple act of a lack of food intake, but what gets women to that point is often an emotional conflict. The way this theory allows normal health issues to become more complex and helps people to connect the dots beyond a clear cut cause and effect for a health problem. After being introduced to this theory, it will cause me to second guess or scratch more than the surface to determine what may actually be behind someone’s health issue. This seems beneficial to not only players, but also their medical professionals because they may be able to save their patient from the deeper symptoms they have which they may be very hesitant to share.

Inhorn, Marcia. (n.d.): n. pag. Reocgnizing Biological, Social, and Cultural Interconnections. Marcia Inhorn. Web.

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